Crossword Genius

The early shift may be tough (8)

Ross

I believe the answer is:

'tough' is the definition.
(synonyms)

'the early shift' is the wordplay.
'shift' indicates an anagram.
'the'+'early'='theearly'
'theearly' is an anagram of 'LEATHERY'.

'may be' is the link.

(Other definitions for leathery that I've seen before include "rather tough", "Tough textured", "Tough, wrinkled (skin)", "Tough-textured", "Like tough skin".)