Harry Redknapp fears Portsmouth will miss out on signing Younes Kaboul because the South Coast club are third in line for the Tottenham defender.
Pompey manager Redknapp has made no secret of his desire to land Kaboul, who joined Spurs last July, as he looks to strengthen his squad ahead of next season's Uefa Cup campaign.
However, Redknapp is concerned he will be beaten to Kaboul's signature by Sunderland, who have already landed former White Hart Lane players Teemu Tainio and Pascal Chimbonda, or Aston Villa.
"I still want to bring in Kaboul but he has spoken with Sunderland," Redknapp told The News. "I know Aston Villa also want him.
"I went to see him last year before he joined Spurs, and drank Moroccan tea with his parents.
"But Roy Keane has met him now too. I'd say we are third now behind the other two teams."
Redknapp admits his side are struggling for defenders, and wingers, and is eager to bring in reinforcements.
"We need another centre-back and we're short in wide positions," Redknapp added on Pompey's official website.
"We haven't got a squad that I think at the moment can carry us through the season.
"I think we need someone out wide, another central defender and we need a left-back. We've got no cover on the left-hand side."
Redknapp's defensive woes have increased following the news that Noe Pamarot is a doubt for the start of the new season after sustaining a thigh injury in Sunday's pre-season friendly defeat to Manchester United.
"Noe Pamarot has done his thigh and could be out for a while, Redknapp added. "It leaves us short at the back. We're desperately short."