Manchester: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini reckons the Premier League leaders' squad needs strengthening even though he has spent £250 million on new players in his two years in charge.
The Italian's comments before last weekend's FA Cup derby defeat by Manchester United that City would struggle to fill their bench for the game were met with widespread astonishment.
City did have their full complement of substitutes for the 3-2 loss that ended their FA Cup defence although they included Denis Suarez and Abdul Razak, who have just six first-team appearances between them.
And the situation may be even more difficult for City when they face Liverpool in the first leg of a League Cup semi-final at Eastlands on Wednesday.
Central defensive star Vincent Kompany will be missing as he starts the first of a four-match ban following his red card against United and there are fitness doubts regarding Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and the in-form David Silva.
Mancini will be able to welcome back midfielder Gareth Barry from suspension but will be without Kolo and Yaya Toure, the brothers now on international duty with the Ivory Coast at the African Nations Cup.
That has all led the City boss to suggest 17-year-old Dutchman Karim Rekik could feature against Liverpool.
"All the people think we have a lot of players," said Mancini.
"But we have 19, plus keepers. It is not a big squad."
"If we are unlucky and we have three or four players injured, like at this moment, we can have a problem. The club knows this."
And with City wary of contravening UEFA's financial fair play regulations, which have the potential to deny the club a place in European competitions, Mancini may well have to sell before he can add to his squad.
But the proposed 25 million euros transfer of want-away striker Carlos Tevez to AC Milan has still to be completed and a frustrated Mancini said: "I said four weeks ago that December and January would be crucial months.
"Until three weeks ago we didn't have any injuries. Now, we have a problem."
"We have players injured and others who went to the African Nations Cup at a crucial moment."
"I am not happy about this but we can't do anything about it. If we don't get the players back we will play with the young players."
"If we don't have a central defender we will play with (Karim) Rekik."