NEWCASTLE United could try and pip Liverpool to the signing of Reading defender Alex Pearce.
The Magpies are weighing up a last-gasp bid for the centre-half, who is out of contract this summer.
Pearce has been linked with a move to Liverpool for almost a year, having been made captain of Reading when Brendan Rodgers was manager.
And with Jamie Carragher having retired, and doubt remaining over the future of fellow Reds centre-halves Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, Liverpool boss Rodgers is keen to bolster his defensive ranks.
Liverpool are thought to be close to tying up the signing of Pearce, but Newcastle are also keeping an eye on the player’s situation as doubts remain over captain Fabricio Coloccini’s future.
Pearce, a Republic of Ireland international, has turned down a new contract at Reading and is available on a free transfer.
The 24-year-old lost his place in the Reading side last season because of the contract situation and was unable to prevent the Royals from being relegated.
With Pardew keen to bring more height and aerial ability to his side, particularly at set-pieces, Pearce fits the bill. The 6ft 2in stopper scored on his Ireland debut and notched five goals in Reading’s Championship-winning season.
Talking about the season just finished, in which Newcastle failed to score a goal from a corner, Pardew said: “The big fall down has been the centre-backs scoring goals from set plays. We need to have more dominance in that area.
“We’re not the strongest attacking-wise (from set pieces) and that is an area that we need to look at.”
Newcastle have also been linked again with a £4m move for West Ham defender James Tomkins, who Pardew knows well from his time in charge at Upton Park.
Tomkins has slipped down the pecking order under Sam Allardyce, despite signing a new contract in January, and could be cashed in to help fund the Hammers’ bid for Andy Carroll.