By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Manchester United are closely monitoring Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, Football Insider sources understand.
Real Madrid’s pending transfer ban has cast doubt on the Spanish giants’ long-term interest in United’s current No 1 David De Gea.
Nevertheless, United fear Real will win an appeal to overturn or postpone their ban and are keeping tabs on a number of goalkeepers ahead of any possible departure of Dea.
A United source has told Football Insider that England international Butland is in the sights of the Premier League giants.
The Premier League giants have made third-party contact with Butland’s representatives to ascertain his interest in a big-money move to Old Trafford in the summer.
The former Birmingham keeper, 22, has been in sensational form this season as he provides the first serious competition Joe Hart has faced for his England place in four years.
Butland’s performances for Mark Hughes’ team have not gone unnoticed by United as they consider a contingency plan for De Gea’s possible exit.
The Spain international will be targeted by Real once again in the summer after his proposed transfer to the Bernabeu dramatically collapsed on deadline day last year.
Real are said to be confident of postponing the transfer ban imposed by Fifa at least until 2017, enabling them to refurbish their squad in the summer.