Manchester United challenge Liverpool with plan to lure Ryan Shawcross back to Old Trafford

Sir Alex Ferguson could thwart Liverpool's interest in former Manchester United central defender Ryan Shawcross by taking him back to Old Trafford.

The United manager is aware Liverpool have been in contact with Stoke City about the 21-year-old Chester-born six-footer and is keeping a close watch on developments.

But the Merseysiders'hopes of signing Shawcross were dashed when they discovered United had retained first refusal on any possible future deal involving the player, who first joined Stoke on a six-month loan in August 2007.

The deal was made permanent in the following January when Stoke agreed to pay £1million with a further million if they achieved promotion.

Since then Shawcross's value has soared after impressive performances helped them consolidate their Premier League status last season.

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