Is former Man United defender set for Old Trafford return?

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Manchester United could look to the past to solve their current defensive issues with a bid for former youth player Ryan Shawcross in the offing.

United’s defensive shortcomings have been well documented this season, with injuries to Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans adding to the strain of not finding replacements for the outgoing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in the summer.

United manager Louis van Gaal has been linked with just about every decent centre back in world football in recent weeks, with Mats Hummels and Ron Vlaar two of the names that keep cropping up.

However, with Aston Villa claiming only a bid in the region of £15m would secure the services of their Dutchman and Arsenal reportedly at the front of the queue to land Hummels, Van Gaal is said to be considering a bid for Stoke’s Shawcross.

The 27-year-old spent six years at Old Trafford between 2002 and 2008 but managed just two League Cup appearances before being sold to the Potters for just £2m.

He has now made 293 appearances for Stoke, scoring 21 goals, and was the bedrock of the team that became notoriously difficult to break down under Tony Pulis.

It is believed that former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insisted on a buy-back clause being inserted into the deal that saw Shawcross leave Old Trafford and this could now see the player emerge as a cheaper alternative to some of the 20-time champions’ other targets.

United have recovered from a shaky start to take a place in the Premier League’s top four and go into their next match with West Brom looking for a third consecutive win.

The Red Devils are on at 7/10 to take all three points at The Hawthorns, with the Baggies available at 4/1 and the draw priced at 3/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.