Southampton have been hit by the news that defender Toby Alderweireld will miss up to four weeks with a hamstring strain.
The 25-year-old has been one of Saints’ star performers since arriving on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid, seamlessly replacing Dejan Lovren after he joined Liverpool.
Alderweireld has helped Southampton keep the tightest defence in the Barclays Premier League, with Sunday’s 1-0 win at Manchester United a 10th clean sheet of the campaign.
The Belgium international was replaced by Florin Gardos just 21 minutes into that Old Trafford encounter with a hamstring complaint that Press Association Sport understands will now rule him out for three to four weeks.
Alderweireld’s injury is not as serious as first feared but leaves Southampton light in central defence, given Maya Yoshida is currently away with Japan at the Asian Cup.
Saints captain Jose Fonte and Gardos are the only senior centre-backs at Ronald Koeman’s disposal, meaning the Dutchman may look to make a move this month.
“I don’t know (if we need to sign another centre half), we have to speak about that,” said Koeman, who can also call upon the inexperienced Jason McCarthy.
“We know that Maya will be away for some weeks, we know that.
“We knew already if we get some injuries then maybe it can be a problem but I think in our squad we can do some changes in positions to keep going.”