West Ham United are unlikely to sign a free agent central defender before January after Craig Dawson's proposed summer exit failed to materialise.
The 32-year-old had looked likely to leave London Stadium during the final days of the transfer window, with Wolves favourites to land his signature over Aston Villa, as he sought to move closer to his family home in Manchester.
But having allowed Issa Diop to join Fulham earlier in the summer, West Ham were reluctant to part ways with fan favourite Dawson until manager David Moyes had sourced a replacement.
Southampton's Jan Bednarek was identified as a leading target, but he ended up joining Villa on loan instead - closing the door on a potential move away for Dawson, who scored on his return to West Ham's starting lineup during Thursday's 3-2 Europa Conference League win over Silkeborg.
West Ham have continued to be linked with free agent central defenders - who can be signed outside of the designated transfer window - but sources have told 90min that moves for Dan-Axel Zagadou, Jason Denayer or Nikola Maksimovic are 'unlikely' to happen at this stage.
The trio are available after leaving Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and Genoa respectively, but would command relatively hefty wages given they would likely be drafted in as squad cover rather than as potential starters - particularly now Dawson is fit and available to start games once more.
As a result, Moyes is expected to stick with the options at his disposal, having already completed deals for German international Thilo Kehrer and Moroccan centre-back Nayef Aguerd over the summer - the latter is yet to feature in a competitive game, however, after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury sustained in the pre-season friendly against Rangers.
Moyes has also welcomed Angelo Ogbonna back into the fold following his recovery from a long-term knee injury, while Kurt Zouma remains fit and available despite his mobility looking limited in West Ham's first few games.
The return of Dawson, as well as Ogbonna, is a boost for West Ham as they bid to get their Premier League season up and running. The Hammers have lost four of their opening six league games, and currently sit in the bottom three with just a single win to their name.