Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray admits he wants to sign another defender after David Wheater departed the club.
Wheater finally completed his move Bolton this week, which means Boro are now short of options in defence.
Stephen McManus is sidelined through injury, meaning Seb Hines is set to get the chance to play against Preston this weekend ahead of Jonathan Grounds who recently returned to the club following a loan spell with Hibernian.
"We've got to take care of that position in the field," said Mowbray.
"Matthew Bates is looking for a partner and Seb Hines is the obvious choice and his opportunity may well come this weekend.
"He's a young guy who needs a good opportunity. If he takes it, then he could make it a lot easier to replace David. He isn't necessarily the same type of player as David, but my philosophy is that guys who do their job well will keep their shirt.
"I'd still be looking to bring in another central defender but if Seb does well then maybe they would start on the bench, which can only be good for competition."
Mowbray, who has been linked with Aboulaye Meite from his former club West Brom and ex-Boro player Andrew Davies, is considering his options.
"I'd have to speak to the powers that be and say, 'We'd really like to get this player and this is the price'," he said.
"I know I'm not going to get all the money, given the club's financial plight.
"What I do know is that we have to find another central defender as quickly as possible, although deals don't necessarily happen overnight.
"We are working extra hard behind the scenes to give the supporters something to get excited about.
"Phone calls are being made and conversations are being held. We have ideas in our minds but there are different types of transfers.
"There are free transfers, loans and there are multi-million pound deals. I know who I'd like to sign. I'd like to sign Rio Ferdinand but that's not going to happen.
"While we have players in mind, first and foremost we have got to plug any holes that we are left with when players leave. David's exit leaves a hole that we need to fill."