SAINTS are reportedly viewing the signing of a centre-back as a priority to improve their squad, ahead of the transfer window opening this summer.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has four first-team centre-backs in Mohammed Salisu, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens and the injured Lyanco at his disposal.

While all have had good patches at points this campaign, some supporters have held question marks over the reliability of the likes of Bednarek and Stephens as starters.

Hasenhuttl yesterday revealed that he left Polish international Bednarek out of the squad that lost 4-1 to Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-final, as he worried he would not be “100 per cent with his mind” on Saints due to World Cup qualifying coming up this month.

Dynel Simeu, 20, is out on loan for the rest of this season at League Two Carlisle United and could return to the Saints squad, but it is a big jump to go from the fourth to top division.

The Athletic report that a centre-back is “being viewed as an important position to strengthen when it comes to bolstering Hasenhuttl’s squad.”

The report also details that conversations are already being held over what business they want to do, and that Saints will receive around an extra £2million per position they finish in the Premier League table.

They add that these funds would boost their finances ahead of the transfer window.

Lyanco, 25, arrived at St Mary’s as Jannik Vestergaard’s replacement during the last summer transfer window and was making good progress until a hamstring tendon injury in February.

He will likely be kept out until mid-April, and could spend much of the rest of the season getting back up to speed ahead of next year.

Frenchman Yan Valery has often impressed while deputising as a central defender, and it is likely this is where Hasenhuttl views him playing going forward, too.

The Athletic add that Saints may depend on selling one of the defenders in order to bolster with a first-team acquisition. Stephens’ current contract officially expires in the summer, but it had been reported elsewhere that he was close to agreeing a new deal earlier in the season.