Wayne Rooney has revealed Derby will start the 2021/22 campaign without a centre-back unless their transfer ban is lifted.
The sanction has been imposed on The Rams due to financial issues facing the club, with an ongoing EFL case requiring that fresh accounts be submitted next month.
Rooney’s side began their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 defeat to his former club, Manchester United, on Sunday and admitted his fears over the size of his squad after the game.
“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.”
Martyn Waghorn was one of several Derby players who decided to leave Pride Park after their contracts expired.
The nine remaining players in Rooney’s squad include two goalkeepers, while out-of-contract duo Ravel Morrison and Phil Jagielka have been on trial with the Rams and were given a run out in the friendly.
“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 per cent 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.”