The Times says United's defensive injury crisis has Ferguson pondering whether to sign another defender to provide increased cover for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. He has identified Shawcross, the Stoke City defender, as a possible solution.
Shawcross, 21, began his career with United, graduating from the club's youth academy, before leaving Old Trafford for Stoke in an initial £1 million deal in January 2008. Ferguson watched the youngster play and score for Stoke against Burnley on Saturday afternoon, although the prime reason for his visit was to watch Owen Coyle's team.
Stoke would be reluctant to sell Shawcross, whose value to them has increased with the number of goals he has scored from set-pieces, but United insisted on a buy-back clause in the deal that took him to the Britannia Stadium.