Wayne Rooney has vowed not to quit as Derby boss, but the former Manchester United star has also called for new signings ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
Derby were placed under a transfer embargo after being found guilty of breaching financial fair play rules last month, but the English Football League (EFL) has since softened its stance due to a significant shortage of registered senior players at Pride Park.
The Rams are now free to sign up to five players on free transfers or on loan, and Rooney has urged the club to get moving in the transfer market as he continues to try and populate his threadbare squad with academy graduates and trialists.
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What's been said?
Rooney expressed his frustration after including eight free agents in his squad for a 2-1 friendly defeat to Salford City on Saturday, including his ex-Manchester United team-mate Ravel Morrison.
Asked if he will still be in charge at Derby when the new Championship season kicks off next month, Roney told Sky Sports: "It's other people which I can't control who need to make bigger decisions than I do.
"All I can do is try to bring some dignity and pride back to this club. It is clear that has gone in the last few years and it is my job to bring that back. I need other people to do their job.
"It's not ideal, it has been very difficult not knowing what my squad will be in two weeks' time when the league starts. However we can, we need to get that sorted.
"If I am being honest, it would be easy for a manager in my situation to walk away. It's a challenge for me, I'm a fighter. I am grateful to Derby for giving me this opportunity and I will do everything I can to get the club through this.
"If we can't bring players in over the next two weeks I do not know how we field a team to start the season.
"I haven't got one centre-back signed to the club, there are two very young players in the U23s and U18s. It would be impossible for me to field a team."
The bigger picture
Derby currently only have nine players registered at senior level, including two goalkeepers, having seen four players leave upon the expiration of their contracts in June and another six return to their parent clubs after loan spells.
In addition to Morrison, Tom Carroll, Phil Jagielka, Sone Aluko, Andre Wisdom, Ryan Allsop, Richard Stearman and Sam Baldock have also been on trial with the Rams, who must now decide which members of the free-agency pool to sign up for the new season.
Rooney managed to keep Derby in the Championship after a dramatic final day in 2020-21, but may struggle to repeat the trick in his first full season at the helm as he continues to try and push his squad back up to 23 players in time for their opening fixture against Huddersfield Town on August 7.