West Ham look to be in pole position to sign Watford defender Craig Dawson, after he was told he's free to leave Vicarage Road.
The 30-year-old defender was left out of new Hornets' boss Vladimir Ivic's matchday squad at the weekend and has only featured in one game so far this season, a 3-1 Carabao Cup defeat at Newport County.
Now, the Hertfordshire Mercury report that Dawson has been told he can move onto pastures new, after new signing William Troost-Ekong forced the former England Under-21 international further down the defensive pecking order.
The Hammers have been keen to strengthen the heart of their defence all summer but failed moves for James Tarkowski and Wesley Fofana before the European transfer deadline has left them short of options. Luckily for the east London side, Premier League clubs are free to do deals with Championship clubs until 16 October due to the English Football League's extended window.
Speaking after West Ham's surprise 3-0 win over Leicester at the weekend caretaker manager Alan Irvine said: "When you sit down as we do every day and plan training, looking at the squad, you think we need more defenders, and we certainly do.
“As you’ve seen the players we have available right now are more than capable of doing the job, I just think the big issue is more the fact that we were light in terms of numbers and competition. It is not a fact that we don’t have good defenders, it is more a case of if we lost a defender over the course of the season through injury or suspension then we are light.”
Dawson has suffered back-to-back relegations in recent seasons with West Brom and then Watford, but the experienced defender would still bolster the Hammers backline.
A £5.5m fee is rumoured to be enough to prize the Hornets man away, who still has three years left to run on his contract in Hertfordshire, and West Ham should have some extra funds available after agreeing to mutually terminate Jack Wilshere's £100,000-per-week contract.