Jurgen Klopp has warned Liverpool may not sign a new centre-back in the January transfer window.
Defending champions Liverpool are in the midst of an injury crisis at the back after losing starters Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for lengthy spells, made worse by deputy Joel Matip's continued struggles to remain fit.
Klopp has switched Fabinho from a holding-midfield role and called on academy products Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips to great effect, with the ever-changing back four conceding just twice in the last four matches.
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Former Liverpool defender and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher believes it is "paramount" the champions sign a centre-back in January to ensure they are able to retain the title. However, Klopp has told Sky Sports News the financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic means the decision is not so straightforward.
"I know but that is not new, that's always the case," Klopp said of speculation, when asked if Matip returning to full fitness would put an end to talk about a new centre-back arriving in January.
"I can't really say anything about that, but you can imagine, six months ago we talked about how much all football clubs struggle and thank God we could keep going, and it helped all the clubs as well.
"But it's still not the time where you really just..." the Liverpool boss appears to signal money being thrown around before continuing, "At least not for us. I don't know exactly how it is at other clubs, but we have to be really cautious and very serious, and so I don't know what we can and what we can't do."
Analysis by Sky Sports' Richard Morgan:
"Joel Matip's latest injury may force Liverpool into the transfer market in January - we run the rule over the Reds' reported centre-back targets in the winter window.
"Who could the Liverpool manager move for? We look at how the club's reported targets have performed this season, what their attributes are, and whether a deal may be possible for any of them in January..."
'Hasenhuttl doing incredible job'
Klopp has praised the transformative job Ralph Hasenhuttl has done at Southampton ahead of Liverpool's trip to St Mary's on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
The Liverpool boss knows Hasenhuttl as a "pressing manager" and has been impressed by the Austrian's refusal to abandon his philosophies despite the club, at one stage last season, being in a relegation fight. They go into Monday's encounter seven points behind leaders Liverpool.
"If they weren't wearing the Southampton shirt you would see that it's Southampton - I like that," Klopp said.
"He's doing an incredible job there. You could really see last season, when they were in a difficult situation, how he reorganised all the defensive stuff without forgetting for one second what his philosophy is.
"Che Adams and Danny Ings up front, if one of them can't play then it's Shane Long, and then the wings are incredibly strong.
"They've got a sensationally-tuned midfield with James Ward-Prowse being the set-piece monster of the league and a really organised last line with a goalie who is flying. So it looks really good."