Brede Hangeland (R)

Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Fulham centre back Brede Hangeland in the January transfer window. The Norwegian international is in the final year of his contract and will be available for free next season but the Metro reports Sir Alex Ferguson may move for the Fulham player as early as the winter window, given the injury problems at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils have been hit with a wave of injuries to first team defenders since the start of the season, with Phil Jones (knee), Chris Smalling (broken metatarsal), Nemanja Vidic (knee surgery) and Rio Ferdinand all unavailable at some time or the other. The injuries have meant Ferguson has been forced to field a makeshift back four on several occasions, even going so far as playing central midfielder Michael Carrick at the back.

In addition, Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra are all well on the wrong side of 30, as far as the club's future is concerned and while the three have a staggering amount of experience (952 appearances in total) between them, they are becoming increasingly unsuitable for the pace and speed of the Premier League. Ferdinand was shown up against Gareth Bale (in the 2-3 league defeat to Tottenham) and also in Romania in a Champions League game against CFR Cluj. Ferguson has also acknowledged he needs to plan for life after Frenchman Evra, for the left back position and moved for 23 year old Holland U21 international Alexander Büttner in the summer.

The concern for United fans here will be that Hangeland, while experienced, is also on the wrong side of 30; he is 31 years old and, like Ferdinand, is not known as a fast defender. Any such move for the centre back is therefore likely to be a short-term measure, to tide over the present crisis.

That would seem to be Ferguson's gameplan. The Scot has unearthed further defensive talent for the future in the shape of Scott Wootton, who made his senior team debut in the Capital One Cup win over Newcastle United and is eager to play a role at Old Trafford this season.

"The last week or so has been amazing. To make my competitive debut in the League Cup and then to come on and play in the Champions League is a great feeling. It's something I'm made up with," the 21 year old explained to the Mirror, adding, "Obviously you don't wish injuries on someone, but that's how you might get your chance."