Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has hailed Joleon Lescott as "a top player" and refused to dismiss making an approach for the Manchester City and England defender.
Lescott, a life-long Villa supporter, is out of favour at the Etihad Stadium and has been strongly linked with a move away in the current transfer window. Lambert says he will be backed in the transfer market by owner Randy Lerner, although Lescott would almost certainly have to take a wage cut for a deal to go ahead.
"He has been a top player and still is," Lambert said of the 30-year-old former Wolves and Everton centre-back. "He's a top, top player. He's not getting a game at Manchester City at the minute. As I've said before, I will sit with the rest of the staff and see what I can do. But I don't think you can ever dismiss it any level whenever you are talking about a top player."
Lambert insists he will not press the panic button in his efforts to strengthen his squad despite a run of three defeats and draw in four games over Christmas during which Villa shipped 17 goals while scoring just two.
"There are names we're trying to do," Lambert continued. "I think everyone has said it's a really tough window in January. We won't just get people in for the sake of getting them in - there is ridiculous money and that sort of thing.
"That's not something I'll do but there's one or two that we will try to. People go on about age and all that. If players want to do it and are hungry then we're open to that. I'll just see, I'll wait and see."
Lambert insists he continues to have a strong relationship with Lerner despite the club's struggles in the league.
He said: "I speak to the chairman all the time. I speak to him every week really. There's never a problem. He's been great, he really has. He said himself that this was always going to be a really tough year because of the transition."
Despite Lambert's interest, City manager Roberto Mancini has insisted he has no intention of selling Lescott. Although he started the New Year's Day win over Stoke, Lescott has often been left on the bench this season due to the form of youngster Matija Nastasic.
But with Lescott's fellow centre-back Kolo Toure on duty at the African Nations Cup along with his brother Yaya, Mancini says he cannot allow players to leave. When asked directly about Lescott, Mancini said: "We don't have enough players to play 40 days without Yaya, without Kolo, with eight players injured. We need players in, not out."