Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has revealed he is desperately short of defensive options for Saturday's Barclays Premier League visit of Chelsea.
After last night's 2-1 Carling Cup defeat at West Bromwich Albion, City could have just three fit defenders for the clash at Eastlands.
Mancini will have only Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure available to face the only Premier League side left with a 100 per cent record unless Micah Richards recovers from a hamstring injury that kept him out at The Hawthorns.
'We have big problems,' he said. 'I hope that Micah Richards can recover. If not I don't know who can play left-back.'
If Richards misses out, it appears likely that Zabaleta will play on the right side and City would look for an alternative on the left flank.
That could either involve Adam Johnson being pressed into emergency service, or more likely a midfielder such as James Milner or Gareth Barry.
Either way, further injury fears shaped Mancini's team selection at The Hawthorns where, having taking a first-half lead through Jo, City were undone by two goals in as many minutes from Gianni Zuiverloon and Simon Cox.
'We couldn't take any risks,' he said 'IIf I had more players available it would be a different team.
Emergency: James Milner (right) may have to play at left-back against Chelsea
'But when you play like us and Chelsea, on Saturday at 12.45, the time to recover is very short. They would need minimum three days so to play tonight would have been dangerous.'
Mancini insisted he had no regrets about fielding an under strength side with Saturday's match against Chelsea in mind - not to mention the FA Cup and Europa League which is more of a priority for the Italian.
'I don't regret making the changes,' he said. 'Saturday is more important, the FA Cup is more important. The Europa League is more important.
'I did not regard this as a necessary sacrifice. We wanted to win. That is why I had four senior players on the bench.
'But I knew there was a chance we could lose because we started with six young players. I am happy with these guys. We might have lost the game but they can improve. If they do not play tonight, when will they ever play?'
West Brom 2 Manchester City 1: Shay Given's the star at last, but reserves lose it Roberto Mancini warns fed-up Manchester City stars to stop moaning about lack of footballMANCHESTER CITY FC