Manchester City face a defensive crisis that could force Roberto Mancini into the transfer market if an appeal to save Vincent Kompany from a four-match suspension proves unsuccessful.
With centre-half Kolo Toure and brother Yaya due to be away for at least a month on African Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast, the potential loss of Kompany will leave Manchester City with just two recognised centre-halves in Joleon Lescott and Stefan Savic.
And with City aiming to sell defenders Nedum Onuoha and Wayne Bridge, plus the absent Carlos Tevez, this month, Mancini could yet persuade the club’s Abu Dhabi hierarchy to sanction an entry into the market for a new centre-half.
Mancini, who has been told that players must be sold before signings are made in an effort to help meet Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations, said: “Every time I say I need a player we have a problem.
“But Real (Madrid) and Barca have been the best teams in Europe for a long time and they still buy players.”
City captain Kompany, who has already served a one-match ban this season following a dismissal for two yellow cards against Wolves in October, was dismissed by referee Chris Foy eleven minutes into the 3-2 FA Cup defeat against Manchester United following a two-footed challenge on Nani.