Souness looks for seasoned cover

Souness is desperate to find cover with Michael Owen, Scott Parker, Kieron Dyer, Emre, Steven Taylor, Shola Ameobi and Craig Moore on the sidelines.

Having spent £50m on new signings in the past 12 months, Souness knows he will have little cash unless he generates it himself, with the midfielder Lee Bowyer seemingly the prime candidate for a swift exit with Birmingham and Charlton monitoring his situation.

But with reinforcements needed in defence, midfield and attack - he is missing nine senior players for today's FA Cup third-round game with League Two side Mansfield - the manager insists he needs men who can make an immediate impact. The likes of Jonathan Woodgate, linked with a return on loan to St James' Park, and Danny Murphy know the Premiership, unlike the Marseilles defender Abdoulaye Méïté.

"My feeling on that is, yes, he's played at a high standard and he's an international player," he said. "But bringing a foreign centre-half in at this time with the way football is in our country - it's so different - we need somebody who can make an instant impression.

"With the way the game is on the Continent, there would certainly be a period of adjustment, and I don't think we have that luxury. It has to be someone who understands the English game and preferably has already played here.

"I'm like every other manager, I'd like to bring more players in at this break, but if we can't do it, we can't do it and we will have to soldier on with what we have got."

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