DOUGIE Freedman admits his back four are stretched to breaking point ahead of the visit of in-form Nottingham Forest.

With David Wheater, Marc Tierney and Tyrone Mears currently sidelined through injury the Wanderers boss has been down to his last four fit senior defenders since Kevin McNaughton’s return to Cardiff City.

Alex Baptiste has played 25 of the last 27 games, Matt Mills 18 of the last 19 while Tim Ream has featured in each of the Whites’ last 20 outings.

Compared with them, club captain Zat Knight is still relatively fresh, having started just four games after a lengthy spell on the margins, but even he has been under pressure after a couple of high-profile errors in the recent draw with Middlesbrough.

Freedman is working hard to bring in reinforcements but is having to do so within a tight budget, emphasised by the record £50.7million losses announced on New Year’s Eve.

“These poor guys (defenders) have played every single game and they have got to have some kind of rest by the end of February,” the Wanderers boss said.

“I am looking at that department but you know me, signings will only come in if they want to come here and price is right.”

Freedman is currently looking at loan signings to supplement his squad but could find a little cash is freed should some of the bigger earners leave the Reebok.

But David Ngog’s proposed move to Turkish club Bursaspor has not progressed any further than an enquiry and Wanderers have reported no interest in any other members of the first-team squad.

With that in mind, Freedman is currently drawing up two shortlists to serve him through the rest of the month.

“At the moment I am working very hard on the loan market to try to get one or two in,” he said.

“Then it’s maybe one or two buys, if something happens.

“I need to look at my players in case someone comes in and gets them. I can't make too many noises, but we are working very hard.”

Forest, fresh from a 5-0 hammering of West Ham in the FA Cup, are undefeated in their last eight games and currently sit fifth, 13 points ahead of Wanderers in the table.