Ryan Shawcross
Shawcross left United in 2008 and has flourished at the Britannia Stadium.Getty Images

Former Manchester United defender Gordon McQueen has urged Louis van Gaal to sign either Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross or Swansea City and Wales skipper Ashley Williams in the January transfer window in order to bolster the club's inexperienced defence.

A United back three of Chris Smalling, Tyler Blackett, and Paddy McNair kept Arsenal at bay for long periods in their 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, a performance in stark contrast to much of the campaign which has been dominated by defensive problems.

Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, and Marcos Rojo have spent lengthy spells out of the United team due to injury while Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have yet to be properly replaced since leaving the club for Inter Milan and Queens Park Rangers respectively during the summer.

Despite United's encouraging win at Arsenal with Blackett and McNair at the heart of the defence, McQueen believes van Gaal must recruit some additional experience during the upcoming January transfer window.

"Let's not forget that long-term this is Manchester United who are looking to win Premier League titles and Champions League titles and these young players need a steadying influence alongside them," he told Manchester Evening News.

"Let's not be carried away by the Arsenal performance. We shouldn't forget that, though I was pleased how the defence eventually responded, United could have been two or three down at half-time and out of it. They got away with it on Saturday.

"The defence still remains an area that needs attention. I don't think I could have named United's best back four last season and so I certainly couldn't do it this campaign.

"The club will be on the look out I am sure for new players. Ryan Shawcross and Ashley Williams fit the bill. They are reliable and you can always call on them. They are consistent. I saw Gareth Southgate at Middlesbrough a lot and week in, week out you could count on Gareth. He was always available and was always consistent with his form.

"Someone along those lines would be ideal. They are hard to come by but they are still out there.

"Players of that ilk are what is needed by United's younger players to help them along. They would benefit from it. You need someone you can hang your hat on every week. The Reds haven't really got that at the moment since Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic left."