Liverpool want former United defender

RAFA Benitez has switched his search for defensive reinforcements to Ryan Shawcross and is considering a �5million bid for the 21-year old Stoke centre-back.

RAFA Benitez has switched his search for defensive reinforcements to Ryan Shawcross and is considering a �5million bid for the 21-year old Stoke centre-back. (Daily Mail)

Already linked with Hull central defender Michael Turner and Portsmouth's Sylvain Distin, the Liverpool manager's need for cover at the back became more urgent after Jamie Carragher limped off with an ankle injury against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

He joined Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger as doubts for next weekend's Barclays Premier League launch.

Shawcross is 6ft 5in and was snapped up from Manchester United 18 months ago, quickly proving his worth in Stoke's first Premier League campaign last season.

Carragher, meanwhile, will have a scan today and Benitez's assessment that there was an 80 per cent chance of at least two of his three injured central defenders being fit to face Tottenham at White Hart Line on Sunday.

Spanish youngsters Danny Ayala and Mikel San Jose, who went on for Carragher in the 16th minute, were pitched in against Atletico Madrid, but Liverpool need proven Premier League pedigree if they are to go one better than last season and finally carry off the title after a 20-year wait.

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Benitez conceded he is working on a limited budget and defended last week's �20million outlay on injury-prone Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani, out for up to two months after ankle surgery.

“I know how easy it is to lose players to injury, and we do need cover,” he said, after seeing Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan fire Atletico two goals up before the industrious Lucas pulled one back.

“I have some ideas and will discuss them with the club, but it depends on prices. If we need something, we will talk to the owners.

“Aquilani would have cost up to �30million normally, but we got him cheaper because of his operation. I have no worries about his fitness record. He was on the wrong end of a bad tackle, and that can happen to any player.

“The point is we have signed him for five years, not five games, and everyone I spoke to in Italy said he would be a fantastic player for us.”

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