Roy Hodgson will accelerate his search for reinforcements after learning that Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher will be out for at least three months because he needs surgery on his dislocated shoulder.
The former England defender will have an operation this week to repair the injury which was sustained during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham.
In the short term, Hodgson is ready to give 18-year-old Danny Wilson, the £5 million summer signing from Rangers, the opportunity to fill the void.
But with Daniel Agger also troubled by injury, Hodgson is determined to recruit at least one experienced defender in January, with Bolton’s Gary Cahill and Adil Rami, Lille’s £12.5 million-rated France centre-half, the Liverpool manager’s leading targets.
Liverpool have scouted Cahill intensively over the past month, but Bolton’s £20 million valuation of the England defender is likely to prove prohibitive, despite the improved financial picture at Anfield following the NESV takeover in October.
Lille are similarly determined to retain Rami, but the loss of Carragher until March has left Liverpool in serious need of quality defenders as they attempt to compete for Champions League qualification.
Carragher had been hopeful that a period of rest would enable his injury to recover naturally and leave him with an outside chance of facing Manchester United in the FA Cup next month or Everton in the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Jan 16.
But a scan of the injury has highlighted more serious damage and Carragher, who has missed just nine Premier League games since the start of the 2004-05 season, has been told to expect a lengthy lay-off.
He said: “I’ll be having surgery at the end of the week. The average [recovery period] is about 12 weeks. I’d like to come back before that, but I’ve got to make sure it’s right. It will probably be late February or early March when I’m looking to come back.
“It’s difficult for me when I’m injured. It hasn’t happened very often and I’m very lucky with that I suppose, but maybe it’s caught up with me a little bit now.
“I’ve been here before with a broken leg, which put me out this length of time. It’s not easy, but you’ve got to get on with it and it makes you more determined to get back.
“I’m sure towards the end of the season, when people are maybe feeling a little bit tired, I’ll be raring to go.”