Aston Villa boss Remi Garde admits he has no option but to select the club’s flops despite questioning their commitment.
Villa are eight points from safety and bottom of the Barclays Premier League with Garde believing some players are taking their places for granted.
They go to Stoke on Saturday after being thumped 6-0 by Liverpool in their last outing – Villa’s worst home defeat in 81 years.
Garde did not bring any new faces in during the January transfer window and is missing several injured players and admitted he would make changes if he could after doubting their passion.
“I cannot say 100 per cent but maybe, yes,” said the Frenchman, who has won just three of his 18 games in charge.
“When I see players not 100 per cent committed I need to know why and my job is to make them fully committed. Saying this I cannot go into every brain.
“They are young, healthy, passionate and they can play at the highest level. Should I repeat that every game? That we are not playing in the countryside, against a small team and just 10 people watching us? It’s strange for me.
“To run a football team if you have no competition within the team and within the squad it’s not the best thing.
“Some of them could be (taking their places for granted). This is not healthy for the squad and for the team.
“But I’m not sure that I saw enough quality among the reserve team to put a player in a very difficult situation in Aston Villa’s first team at the moment.”
Jordan Ayew is banned while Jack Grealish, Carlos Sanchez, Jordan Amavi and Adama Traore are all injured.
But despite handing midfielder Jordan Lyden his debut and including 18-year-old Keinan Davis in recent squads, Garde is wary about playing the kids.
He said: “I don’t want to put them in a very bad situation that could make you say ‘okay, they are not the level’.
“Maybe this is not the right time and maybe they are not ready enough.”