Arsene Wenger Reuters

Arsenal are reportedly considering a shock move for Sunderland star Kieran Richardson, who left Manchester United four years ago, in an effort to alleviate their mounting problems in defence.

The Daily Mirror claim Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is exploring alternatives to Wayne Bridge, who has been strongly linked with a move to the Emirates. The Frenchman is concerned by the former England international's questionable fitness record and fears the defender's lofty wage demands would scupper an imminent deal and has therefore begun looking at the likes of the former Manchester United star.

The Arsenal manager has allegedly set his sights on the aforementioned former Manchester United youngster, who left Old Trafford to join Sunderland in 2007, as the Frenchman looks to maintain the Gunners' pursuit of a top four finish.

The previously mentioned source suggests Richardson, who has eight caps for England, would favour a return to London having started his career as a West Ham United trainee and would welcome the opportunity to play for Arsenal, having played over 40 league games for their Premier League rivas Manchester United between 2002 and 2007.

The Mirror and the Daily Mail intimate Arsenal remain on the lookout for defensive cover in their fullback department following injuries sustained by Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs and suggest Richardson is now one of a number of players under consideration for a move to the Emirates this month.

Richardson, who won the 2007 Premier League and 2006 League Cup with Manchester United, missed Sunderland's shock victory over City at the weekend because of a virus, but suggests Martin O'Neill would consider an offer from Arsenal on the condition any monies raised could be reinvested in his newly acquired squad.