Derby have high hopes of luring at least one big name to Pride Park for next season and it has been suggested that Michael Owen could be the man to fire them to the Premier League.
The Rams have suffered a troubled season lingering above the relegation zone, but after securing their safety they can now begin making early preparations for the next campaign.
Manager Nigel Clough is set to be handed some money by the board, while the club’s financial position is set to be improved by the retirement of high earner Robbie Savage.
And according to the Metro, Manchester United striker Owen is just the marquee name that the club require to help them mount an assault on the play-offs and they are ready to put together a £1.5m package to tempt the former England striker.
The newspaper reports that Clough said: “The last two seasons have been very frustrating and I think everybody recognises we need a fresh injection of players.
“There will be money available. We want six or eight players, it will be a mix of experience, free transfers and at least one ‘biggish’ signing.”
Owen has seen his first-team opportunities limited at Manchester United this season behind Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez and may have to drop down a division if he wants the guarantee of a virtually certain starting spot.
The 31-year-old would be available on a free transfer and certainly still possesses the killer instinct in front of goal that could be a major asset for Derby, if they can manage to keep him fit.
Derby’s final game of the Championship season is away at Reading and they are 9/2 to secure a surprise victory.
Reading’s odds are 8/13 to take the three points and perhaps more importantly gain some winning momentum ahead of their fixtures in the play-offs.
A £30 stake on Derby beating Reading would return £135. New customers can sign up here for a free £30 bet.