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Southampton looking to bolster defence in January - Hasenhuettl

(Reuters) - Southampton will prioritise the signing of a full back in the January transfer window as the struggling Premier League football club look to climb out of the relegation zone, manager Ralph Hasenhuettl said.

The Saints have conceded 36 goals in 17 league games - more than any other side - largely due to a 9-0 hammering at home by Leicester City in October, and sit 18th in the table.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s league clash at Aston Villa, Austrian Hasenhuettl stressed the need to bolster his back line with French right back Yan Valery ruled out until the New Year due to a viral infection.

“The window in the summer wasn’t perfect. It’s absolutely clear that we have to do something in the full back position because even now we have one out,” Hasenhuettl told a news conference on Thursday.

“We only have Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares in these two positions, so this is definitely a position we’re looking for... We’ll do something.”

Hasenhuettl said Mali winger Moussa Djenepo will not feature against Villa as the 21-year-old recovers from a hamstring issue - the latest in a series of injuries for the summer signing.

“He has problems with his hamstring and the risk is too big. We have a lot of games over Christmas. It’s important he gets 100% fit,” Hasenhuettl said.

“Then we also have ill players. Kevin Danso has been out for two days... You see the weather outside is wet and stormy. It’s not a big coincidence somebody gets sick from time to time.

“But we clean our hands every day thousands of times and don’t kiss each other, so it’s fantastic.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing