Manchester City are still to decide whether to appeal against forward Samir Nasri’s sending-off at Norwich on Saturday.
Nasri faces the prospect of a three-match man after being shown a straight red card for violent conduct for an alleged headbutt on Canaries defender Sebastien Bassong.
The Barclays Premier League champions have until this afternoon to decide whether to appeal or accept an automatic three-match ban.
Due to the holiday season, an appeal would free Nasri up to play in the New Year’s Day game against Stoke at the Etihad Stadium as a hearing would not be held until Wednesday.
Manager Roberto Mancini said: “We will decide this morning. We talked yesterday and today we decide.
“We don’t know what can happen if we appeal. Usually they reject an appeal.
“This could be a problem because after this game we lose three players, Yaya (Toure), Kolo (Toure) and (Abdul) Razak and we don’t want to lose another.”
That remark also indicated that City now expect to lose their three Ivory Coast players to the African Nations Cup after the Stoke clash.
City had previously indicated the trio would leave for international duty after the FA Cup third-round tie against Watford on January 5.
The loss of the Toure brothers, and particularly midfield inspiration Yaya, was sorely felt during the 2012 African Nations Cup.
Because of that, Mancini claims he has no intention of letting any players leave during the January transfer window.
Mancini said: “We can’t sell players. We don’t have enough players to play if we sell players.”
City have been linked with moves for various players but it had been widely assumed they would have to sell before bringing in new faces. But with numerous absences, Mancini could be forced to move into the market.
When asked if he might look to bring players in, Mancini said: “Probably – we can have a problem because we lose three players and we have Micah (Richards), I don’t think he play until the end of February.
“Jack (Rodwell) – we don’t know when he can play. Maybe we can recover (Aleksandar) Kolarov in two weeks. We will see this in next days.”
Right-back Richards has been out with a knee injury since October.
There have been conflicting reports as to when he might return but Mancini is now suggesting it will be the end of February before he is match-fit, but he will return to training earlier.
Midfielder Rodwell was expected to be out until early in the new year with a hamstring problem.
Defender Maicon has also been receiving treatment for a knee injury in Italy while striker Mario Balotelli is not expected to return from a virus until the Watford game.