Aston Villa are weighing up a move for Manchester City's out-of-favour defender Joleon Lescott to shore up their leaky defence.
Owner Randy Lerner is set to back manager Paul Lambert this month in a bid to turn around the club's shaky form. Lerner remains committed to first-year boss Lambert, despite their troubles in the Premier League as a young side battles to find its feet.
Villa are a point off the drop zone after conceding 15 goals without reply in three heavy losses over Christmas. A point at Swansea on New Year's Day stopped the rot, but Villa realise an experienced central defender is essential this month.
Lescott, a local lad who grew up supporting Villa before playing for Wolves, Everton and now City, is available.
But his large wages are an issue, as Lerner is still seeking to reduce player salaries, and both Everton and Sunderland are also interested in taking the 30-year-old.
The £10million-rated ace will have to take a significant drop and negotiate with the champions for a pay-off to join Villa.
In recent years, both Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland left City with golden goodbyes to compensate them when they joined Villa.
Despite struggling in the top-flight, Villa have a League Cup semi-final first leg at Bradford next Tuesday.
Overall, Lerner is pleased with Lambert's work reducing the wage bill and nurturing their young academy graduates - he is delighted with the Scot's main summer signing, £7.5m Christian Benteke.
The American is now willing to back Lambert again in this month's window.
An experienced centre-back and a ball-winning midfielder are priorities, while the club are considering a new left-back too, amid concerns over the abilities of Joe Bennett and Eric Lichaj.
Big-earning duo Shay Given and Darren Bent are both available if Villa get good offers, while Nottingham Forest's ex-Villa manager Alex McLeish fancies midfielder Barry Bannan.
But outcast Alan Hutton has now returned to the club following his loan spell at Forest as the clubs negotiate over the percentage of his salary to pay if the Championship club keep him.