Ronald Koeman has admitted Saints may have to consider signing a defender if Toby Alderwerield is sidelined for an extended period of time, but has backed Florin Gardos to prove himself in the first team.

The centre-half is expected to be out for up to four weeks as a result of the hamstring injury he sustained during Sunday's victory at Manchester United.



It suddenly leaves Saints thin on the ground for centre halves, with Maya Yoshida currently away playing for Japan in the Asian Cup in Australia.

Captain Jose Fonte and Romanian international Gardos are the only two senior central defenders currently available to Koeman, with youngster Jason McCarthy waiting in the wings.

Yoshida is unlikely to return in January, which means Saints will be anxious not to collect any further injuries or suspensions in the position.

Saints may well opt to wait and see whether such a circumstance occurs before moving for a centre half, as they could well be back to full strength with four players in that position by fairly early in February, before which there are just two league games scheduled – one of those against Newcastle this weekend and the other the visit of Swansea on February 1.

Ideally, Saints would not add to their squad with another central defender but Koeman admitted the club will have to weigh up what to do once they know how long Alderweireld is out.

He said: “I don’t know (if we need to sign another centre half), we have to speak about that.

“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.”


Toby Alderweireld on Twitter today.

Koeman was greatly encouraged by the performance of summer signing Gardos after he was thrust in at centre half against Manchester United at Old Trafford when Alderweireld limped off injured 20 minutes into the 1-0 win.

Gardos quickly settled down and produced an excellent performance to help Saints to yet another clean sheet.

He now looks set for an extended run in the team and Koeman has faith in the player.

“I was very happy about the performance of Florin. He demonstrated a very good performance,” said Koeman, who has often been forced to throw Gardos into tricky situations.

“It’s difficult but you see the player is more comfortable, has more confidence and he showed that.”