Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate insists he is not about to pull his boots back on.
The former England international insists he will only play in a 'crisis' this season, despite Boro's obvious frailties in defence.
Southgate saw his new charges lose 3-2 at Reading having led by two goals after just 20 minutes - and it was Boro's backline that bore the brunt for the loss.
Julio Arca has since been ruled out with injury, joining Ugo Ehiogu on the sidelines, and with no new central defenders yet brought into the club - Southgate's options are now even more limited.
"I said at the beginning of the season it would only be in a crisis and, in terms of a crisis, I mean in terms of not having the players to put out on the field and we are not in that position, that's for sure," Southgate told Sky Sports News.
On defensive cover, Boro have made a move for Sylvain Distin of Manchester City - but that deal looks to have stalled over personal terms.
Southgate says talks are ongoing with the Frenchman, insisting: "The situation has not changed.
"We are still in agreement with Manchester City - the fee has not changed, so that side of it is no different - and we are still in discussions with the player."
Meanwhile, Southgate has again fended off speculation regarding Stewart Downing and possible renewed interest from long-term suitors Tottenham.
"I think Stewart knows how much I think of him and how much we as a club think of him," he said.
"But it's difficult for me to comment on something that is fabrication, as far as I am aware, because I have had no contact from anybody about any of our players.
"It's speculation, as far as I am aware.
"He is very focused on what he wants to do. I am sure if he had any concerns, he would come to see me. He knows how much I think of him.
"The only slightly disappointing thing is that, as far as I am aware, it's a story without any truth. I am almost loathe to give it credibility because I have not heard anything about it."