Ipswich Town vs Southampton preview: Toby Alderweireld's absence leaves Saints short at the back

The defender will miss up to four weeks with a hamstring strain, starting with the FA Cup third-round replay at Portman Road

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The Independent Football

Southampton have been hit by the news that central defender Toby Alderweireld will miss up to four weeks with a hamstring strain, prompting the manager, Ronald Koeman, to consider bringing in a replacement this month.

The 25-year-old, who was injured in Sunday’s win at Manchester United, has been one of Saints’ best performers since arriving on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid, replacing Dejan Lovren after he joined Liverpool.

The Belgian has also helped Southampton to keep the tightest defence in the Premier League.

Alderweireld’s injury is not as serious as first feared but leaves Southampton light in central defence, as Maya Yoshida is away with Japan at the Asian Cup. Saints’ captain, Jose Fonte, and Florin Gardos are the only senior centre-backs at Koeman’s disposal.

“I don’t know [if we need to sign another centre-half], we have to speak about that,” Koeman, whose side travel to Ipswich on Wednesday night for their FA Cup third-round replay, said. “We know that Maya will be away for some weeks. 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.”

Millwall head into their replay at Bradford City having won only once in their last 12 matches and the manager, Ian Holloway, has told his players they can “gain some self-esteem” with a victory.

“It’s about working as a group, working hard for each other and coming out on top,” Holloway said. “It has been a long time since we have done that and we have got to get back to those habits.”