Martin Jol admits Fulham will have to be inventive, creative and lucky to get in players this month, with Tottenham's Tom Huddlestone and Dnipro midfielder Derek Boateng both on his radar.
The Cottagers saw a number of key players leave in the summer and, after a bright start to the campaign, have dropped down the table.
Fulham welcome Wigan to west London on Saturday as they look to build on their recent win at West Brom, but Jol is aware he needs to improve his squad.
Central midfield is a key area for the Dutchman, who revealed the Cottagers are also after cover at right-back as Stephen Kelly is on the verge of joining Reading.
"As a lot of other teams will tell you, we are very close [to bringing in players] but there are so many other teams involved," Jol said.
"If you want a good player, other teams are there to try and jump on it so we have to be very inventive.
"We don't have a lot to spend, to be honest, so we have to be very creative.
"It'll be not good to tell you the areas we need to strengthen but we try to get one or two players in to strengthen the squad.
"One example is right-back as Stephen Kelly, who went for a medical at Reading today. It is close to completion. I expect him to join Reading permanently."
Jol would not be drawn on links with Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland, but said there was no interest in Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin.
The Dutchman was more forthcoming when it came to two midfielders at former club Tottenham, Jake Livermore and Huddlestone.
"Jake Livermore went to QPR, as you all well know, so he is off the list," Jol said.
"Over the last six years I had an interest in Tom Huddlestone, but he was injured and then went to Stoke.
"I think he failed a medical there but I am not sure, so he went back to Spurs.
"If Tom is fit, he is always in the back of my mind but as I told you before, I won't speculate on names. I can't say Tom is not on my list because I like him.
"I always keep an eye on him, even when he is not coming here."
Jol has also been heavily linked with Ghana international Boateng, who currently plies his trade in Ukraine with Dnipro.
"There is no movement there," Jol said. "I am not frustrated because of the reasons you think.
"Of course there are a lot of players that would probably make us stronger and we are not like Real Madrid, you know.
"We cannot offer £10million or £15million and get the players on the board. It is almost impossible so we have to not only be inventive, you need a bit of luck as well. That is probably the case now."
Jol's immediate attention is on tomorrow's clash with Wigan as Fulham look to secure back-to-back league wins for the first time since September.
Mahamadou Diarra and Kerim Frei are both unavailable to face the Latics, although Jol can welcome back Mladen Petric, Damien Duff, Mark Schwarzer and John Arne Riise after injury.
"I feel that we should have done a lot better in our home games with our home record over the past years," Jol said, having won just four of 10 league games at Craven Cottage this season.
"That is why we need wins. We started at West Brom to repair some damage with three points away from home.
"Hopefully we can do the same against Wigan because they are one of the bottom clubs at the moment."