JONATHAN WOODGATE is still hoping to make “one or two” signings before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, after admitting a lack of defensive options contributed to Middlesbrough’s 1-0 defeat at Fulham.

Boro crashed to their first league loss in six matches as Anthony Knockaert’s sixth-minute strike settled things at Craven Cottage, with Woodgate claiming a run of three games in six days had finally caught up with his injury-ravaged squad.

The Teessiders have made three signings since the start of the month, with goalkeeper Dejan Stojanovic having become the latest player to arrive when he signed from St Gallen earlier this week, but there is a desire to make another couple of additions, with a new centre-half a priority.

Boro are understood to have spoken to German side Augsburg about a possible loan deal for Reece Oxford, who moved to the Bundesliga from West Ham last summer.

The 21-year-old was something of a child prodigy with the Hammers, making his first-team debut at the age of just 16, but has made just eight senior appearances since completing a permanent move to Augsburg.

Dutch side VVV Venlo have also offered him a loan deal for the second half of the season, but Boro are hoping the opportunity to return to England will appeal to the centre-half, who was on the Teessiders’ list of targets at the end of last season before he turned his initial loan deal at Augsburg into a full-time switch.

Woodgate did not want to speak about Oxford directly last night, but while Jonny Howson and Paddy McNair have impressed since being moved into defence, a lack of available centre-halves is clearly an issue the Boro boss would like to address.

“A lot of players get linked,” said Woodgate. “When something happens, I’ll let you know. A lot of good players get linked with our club - a lot of centre-halves tick boxes, a lot of midfielders tick boxes, a lot of forwards tick boxes. How many more signings would we like to make? I’ve no idea. Maybe one or two, let’s see.

“But tonight, I would love to have played a four at the back because you’ve got two full-backs looking after their winger and two v one at centre-half, but I’ve only got one fit centre-half.”

Having conceded in the opening two minutes of Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat at Spurs, Boro were once again punished for a slow start as Fulham threatened to run riot in the first half of last night’s game.

Knockaert converted Joe Bryan’s cross to open the scoring, but the hosts could easily have been three or four goals to the good by the interval, such was the extent of their first-half dominance.

Woodgate made six changes in an attempt to freshen things up from Tuesday night, but with his options limited because of a lack of fit, senior players, he admits the packed recent schedule is taking its toll.

“We didn’t start fast enough,” said the Boro boss, who will lead his side back into action on Tuesday when they host Birmingham City. “The games have caught up with us over the last fortnight, especially with the squad low on numbers. I could have rested a few more players.

“We didn’t really lay a glove on them for the first 25 minutes, and that’s the most disappointing thing. The damage was done, but you’re playing against a team, an ex-Premier League team, with Premier League players.

“I’m not going to berate my players, there are some really tired bodies in there. When has Djed Spence ever played three games in six days at a high level with all the pressure on it? He hasn’t. There were a few really tired bodies. Fletch (Ashley Fletcher) needed a breather, but I brought him on hoping to get something.”