Derby County will start the new season without a recognised centre-half unless a transfer embargo is lifted, says manager Wayne Rooney.
The sanction was imposed because of financial issues facing the club, with an ongoing EFL case requiring that fresh accounts be submitted next month.
Rooney has brought players in on trial to bolster a squad of just nine contracted senior professionals.
“I just want a team to put out on the first day of the season,” Rooney said.
“Something has to happen. If you look at my squad, if nothing changes I have not got one centre-back.
“In order for us to compete in this league, something has to change.”
Some senior players left amid the uncertainty, such as striker Martyn Waghorn, after their contracts expired.
The nine remaining players include two goalkeepers, while Phil Jagielka and Ravel Morrison were two of five players in the Derby squad for Sunday’s friendly against Rooney’s former club Manchester United who do not have contracts.
Coach Shay Given also left when his contract recently expired. Rooney wants the former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper to be part of his backroom team.
“It’s a challenge and it is not ideal,” Rooney admitted.
“I am constantly trying to get answers but I am still not getting what I want and what the club wants. I am truthfully not 100% sure of the ins and outs.
“I will do my best for this football club but I need help and support. I believe that support will come. I could do with it now.”