Saints will step up their efforts to land a central defender after Jose Fonte was stretchered off during the FA Cup hammering by Chelsea.

There have been conflicting reports in Italy over the weekend over the future of Davide Astori after his agent was quoted as confirming Saints were one of the clubs interested in signing the Cagliari centre half.

One report claimed that a deal for the twice-capped Italian international was imminent, while another insisted the move was off with Astori unable to agree personal terms.

Whether Saints do move further for Astori or not, it is clear that a position that was already a priority to be strengthened is now urgently in need of reinforcements after Fonte was carried off with a knee injury during the 5-1 drubbing.

Boss Nigel Adkins refused to be drawn on the extent of Fonte’s injury and what that might mean for Saints’ transfer activity.

But he admitted: “It’s not good when somebody gets stretchered off.

“I can’t say the extent of the damage.

Full story in today's Daily Echo