Manchester United are watching Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is exploring the prospect of signing a young centre-half this January given their recent defensive injury woes.

Howedes is on the agenda, says, where United scouts have been joined by Zenit St Petersburg representatives at Schalke games in recent weeks.

Howedes' future is under a cloud, with his Schalke deal due to expire in 2014.