Liverpool transfer chief Michael Edwards has been urged to work his "magic" again and sign a centre-back by January 3.

The Premier League champions visit Southampton on Monday night looking to keep their title defence on track after dropping points in successive games against Newcastle and West Brom.

Jurgen Klopp's side still went into 2021 on top of the table, but they haven't been helped by a crippling injury crisis that has seen Fabinho playing much of the season as a makeshift centre-half.

With Joel Matip having joined Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez on Liverpool's casualty count, Klopp is desperately short of defensive options, with youngsters Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams his only specialist centre-halves.

And John Aldridge urged his former club to act as soon as the transfer window opens on Saturday - saying Klopp's side won't retain their crown unless they bring in an experienced defender.

Joel Matip's injury has left Liverpool desperately short of defensive options

"The manager has got to pull a rabbit out of a hat," the ex-Reds striker told the  Liverpool Echo.

"He’s got to get the backing from the owners – we’ve got to get a centre-half, an experienced one.

"We’ve only got Fabinho now who can play there – and he’s a midfield player – and two young kids.

“As well as the kids have done and Fabinho has been magnificent, we won’t win the Premier League if we’re depending on the youngsters. We’ll get caught out too many times.

Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards has been urged to act fast

“The sooner the better for me. The first, second or third of January, we have to get a centre-half."

Matip has been ruled out for around three weeks with an adductor strain, meaning he is set to miss games against Aston Villa, Manchester United and Burnley.

Aldridge fears Liverpool's Champions League campaign could also be affected if the Cameroonian is out for longer than expected, with the Reds due to visit RB Leipzig on February 16.

“We’ve also got the return of  Champions League football in a few weeks and Matip could still be out," said Aldridge.

“We sold Dejan Lovren and never brought a replacement in but you can’t just bring someone in for the sake of it.

“You have to find someone who fits the bill across the board and can play the Liverpool way and the Jurgen Klopp way. There’s got to be someone out there.

“Teams might hold you to ransom and it’s not a great market in January but Michael Edwards and his recruitment team have been fantastic over the years and they’ve got to come up with another piece of magic now.”