thats the downfall. your damned if you do and damned if you dont. if you dont have the money for new parts, then your pretty much stuck with using the old stuff for awhile. but if the rod doesnt have any up and down play on the crank, and its only side to side, it should hurt anything unless you notice it catching on something, which could only be the lobes on the crank.
in other words. if the bushing/bearing on the lower end of the rod is not elongated. it will work fine. rods are always made wider where the bearing is to keep the shaft portion of the rod away from the spinning lobes on the crank.and in most cases, they do have quite a bit of side to side travel.
and unless the engine ran with no oil the lower rod bearings rarely ever fail. i would look closer to the upper rod bearing and wrist pin. maybe they are whats worn and making noise.