Liverpool are preparing to bid for Ryan Shawcross, skysports.com understands.
The 23-year-old has established himself as one of the most exciting defensive talents in the country after his imperious displays at the back for Stoke since their promotion to the Premier League in 2008.
Liverpool were thought to have originally been eyeing a summer move for the £10.5 million-rated centre-back but, after the long-term layoff of Anfield hero Jamie Carragher, they are now believed planning a January bid.
Carragher, 33, will be sidelined for three months after dislocating his shoulder as Liverpool lost to Spurs on Sunday; news which has served as a huge blow to the Anfield club.
Liverpool are worryingly short of centre-backs currently - with Daniel Agger also a fitness concern - so Reds boss Roy Hodgson is thought to be in the market for at least one more defender.
Shawcross certainly has the potential to be an England regular, and fits with the ethos of new Liverpool owners NESV after they pledged to invest in the future by bringing young talent to Anfield.
West Ham captain Matthew Upson and Birmingham centre-half Scott Dann are also reportedly on the Liverpool radar as Hodgson and NESV look to draft in reinforcements to Anfield next month.