Bristol City target Manchester United defender Scott Wootton as loan signing
BRISTOL City boss Derek McInnes is targeting Manchester United defender Scott Wootton.
The Championship strugglers are in the market for at least one commanding centre-back in January and the 21-year-old England youth international fits the bill.
McInnes has asked United manager Sir Alex Ferguson if he can take the 6ft 2in defender on loan as his team fights to avoid relegation to League One.
The Robins are likely to face competition from Championship rivals Blackburn Rovers, who are also reported to be showing an interest in Birkenhead-born Wootton.
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But a move to Ashton Gate is expected to provide Wootton with regular football and the Robins are leading the race to recruit the centre-half.
McInnes confirmed at the weekend that he had lodged bids for "two or three" players and The Post understands Wootton is one of those.
Brighton & Hove Albion rebuffed City's manager when he made an inquiry about England Under-21 centre-back Lewis Dunk last week and he has since moved his search elsewhere.
Although the former Tranmere and Liverpool trainee has made only a handful of first-team appearances for United, he has rather more experience of the English second tier, having previously spent loan spells at Championship clubs Peterborough United and Nottingham Forest.
Wootton made 13 appearances for Forest during the second half of last season and fits McInnes' requirement for a dominant, first-ball-winning centre-back.
Wootton launched his career with his local club, Tranmere Rovers, and attended their school of excellence before joining Liverpool and becoming a regular fixture in their under-18 side at the age of 14.
He later joined Manchester United after refusing a youth contract at Liverpool at the age of 16. After captaining the United academy team in 2009–10, he was promoted to the reserves in 2010–11, becoming a regular player in the early part of the season.
He made his first-team debut for United in a 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Newcastle United in September and replaced Jonny Evans in the second half of a UEFA Champions League tie against CFR Cluj the following month.
Meanwhile, McInnes is waiting to discover if he can bring midfield general Neil Danns, pictured, back to Ashton Gate. Danns made nine appearances for the Robins during a successful two-month loan spell, but returned to parent club Leicester City last week.
It seems Foxes boss Nigel Pearson is unlikely to stand in Danns' way if the midfielder decides he wants to return to City.
The former Crystal Palace star does not appear to figure in Pearson's plans. He is behind Danny Drinkwater, Ben Marshall, Anthony Knockeart and Matty James in the Leicester pecking order and his prospects will be further diminished should Pearson's reported interest in Millwall midfielder Liam Trotter prove to have any foundation.
McInnes has made no secret of his desire to bring Danns back to Ashton Gate and the Scot has already been in touch with Leicester.
But the final decision will almost certainly lie with Pearson, who is set to meet with Danns for talks any day now.
Pearson was guarded when asked about Danns' future, but did not rule out a return to Bristol City later this month.
Pearson said: "He is back and we will probably discuss at some point where we go from here.
"Whether Bristol City want to take him or not is one element of it, but then it has to be decided whether we think it is appropriate and whether the player wants to go back there.
"There are a number of variables that we have to consider before any further action is taken."
Ideally, McInnes would like to bring Danns back on loan until the end of the season. But City may be prepared to pay a modest fee if Leicester decide they want the experienced Championship campaigner off the books.