Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy has moved quickly to plug the growing defensive deficiencies threatening to undermine his side's unexpected assault on the Championship play-offs.
The former Sunderland boss has followed up his much publicised ice-breaking phone call to his successor at the Stadium of Light, Roy Keane, by agreeing a deal to take the Wearsiders' former Scottish Under-21 central defender, Neill Collins, to Molineux on a two-month emergency loan deal.
Collins is expected to go straight into the Wolves team against struggling Southend United tomorrow to start a 12-game run of availability which takes in the home game with Barnsley on January 2.
That will help provide much-needed defensive cover in the time that long-term absentee Mark Clyde and the club's latest injury victim, captain Jody Craddock, remain sidelined.
It is the second time McCarthy has signed Collins, having also taken him to Sunderland for a bargain #25,000 in August 2004. But the 6ft 3in stopper from Troon has struggled to break through at the Stadium of Light.
He did not start a game in the Premiership last season and made only a handful of appearances under McCarthy in Sunderland's promotion campaign the year before — most of them, ironically, as an occasional stand-in for Gary Breen, alongside whom he is expected to line up for an immediate debut against the Championship's bottom club.
"Mick felt he wanted to strengthen that area of the team, with the current injuries to Mark Clyde and Jody Craddock," said chief executive Jez Moxey. "We're happy to have been able to make that happen."
Collins comes to Molineux with the added attraction of the only goal he has scored in English league football having been against West Bromwich Albion, on the day Keane first arrived at the Stadium of Light back in August. But he has still failed to nail down a regular place under the new Sunderland boss and McCarthy has brought him south not for his scoring ability, but in the hope that he can lessen the flow at the other end.
After leaking just eight goals in their first ten games of the season, Wolves have now shipped 11 in their last six. That said, they have had some cruel luck along the way, notably in the 4-0 defeat at leaders Cardiff City but McCarthy admits: "We can't afford to have a soft centre.
"Early on, we were really solid and not giving goals away and we need to get back to that."
While he looks almost certain to bring in Collins for 19-year-old David Wheater, whose error led to the killer second goal in Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat at Southampton, McCarthy also hopes to have top scorer Jay Bothroyd back to exploit the Championship's third leakiest defence.
"Our game at Southampton was billed as a 'must win'," said McCarthy. "I'll make no bones about it, it's the same for us on Saturday against Southend. There's no other way of dressing it up."