LA GALAXY are considering a move for Richard Dunne if he can prove that he has overcome his struggles with injury.
The Aston Villa defender is yet to play a game this season after a number of setbacks in his recovery from a groin problem, and his club future is up in the air with his contract at the Birmingham club due to expire this summer.
New York Red Bulls want to bring the Dubliner Stateside and it's understood that MLS Cup champions Galaxy are now also monitoring his progress.
Dunne's fellow Ireland international and pal Robbie Keane signed a new two-year deal with the LA club last week, and the central defender has admitted in the past that a US move would appeal.
Galaxy are in the business of finalising their budgets ahead of the seasonal kick-off in March and they are primarily looking for high-profile midfield targets to replace David Beckham, with Frank Lampard and Kaka linked with a California move.
Defenders are down the list of priorities but the club are aware of Dunne's impending availability.
Villa are keen to reduce their wage bill and Paul Lambert has no plans to offer the 33-year-old a renewal of his £60,000-a-week deal.
His chances of proving his fitness before the transfer window closes are slim, but an MLS side could still attempt to cut a deal with current employers Villa.
Giovanni Trapattoni is hoping for good news on Dunne with a view to March's World Cup qualifiers, and he will be heartened by a positive update on his regular defensive partner Sean St Ledger.
It emerged last week that he required a second visit to German hamstring specialist Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, but Leicester assistant manager Craig Shakespeare believes that the centre-back is making progress.
"Sean has been able to get outside and do some training but he is not fully training," said Shakespeare. "Sean does tend to push himself and we will have to make sure that we hold him back a bit.
"He looks like he is progressing day by day, though."