Manchester City’s uninspiring run of one win in their last four league games is down to having only “13 or 14” fit players, says manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Samir Nasri missed Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by Stoke, while Fernando injured his hamstring.
City named a Premier League squad of 21 players in September, four short of the maximum of 25.
“We’re playing the same players as in the last three games,” said Pellegrini.
“Maybe it’s the reason we didn’t play with the energy that we need to win.”
With five of the 21-strong squad injured before the trip to the Britannia, all of the remaining 16 except for third-choice goalkeeper Richard Wright were either in the starting 11 or on the bench.
The three remaining substitute spots were filled by under-21 players Kelechi Iheanacho, Manuel Garcia Alonso and Cameron Humphreys-Grant.
City’s defeat has seen them slip to third, three points behind leaders Leicester.
However, they have reached the semi-finals of the League Cup and the last 16 of the Champions League, with their last group game against Borussia Monchengladbach coming up on Tuesday.
“We are playing in other competitions with the same 13 or 14 players,” said Pellegrini. “Without doubt the players didn’t recover from the last two games.
“We play very bad because we are playing with the same players, and nothing much more happens.”
Midfielder Toure, striker Aguero and defensive pair Kompany and Zabaleta are all due back in December, but Nasri is set to be out until April and Fernando is yet to be assessed.