By David Lynch
Manchester United are prepared to sanction a summer loan move for left-back Alexander Buttner in a bid to increase his first-team experience, Goal.com understands.
The 23-year-old, who moved to Old Trafford from Vitesse before the start of the season, has been understudy to Patrice Evra this term, making only one league start under Sir Alex Ferguson, in which he scored against Wigan.
Buttner has been used frequently in cup competitions for the league leaders, with starts against Braga, Cluj and Galatasaray in the Champions League, as well as playing 90 minutes in United's 2-2 draw with West Ham in Saturday's FA Cup tie.
However, United feel a loan stint elsewhere would guarantee Buttner greater top-level experience, and Ferguson has made clear that the defender has a promising future at the Theatre of Dreams.
"We took him [Buttner] for the future and to succeed Patrice Evra," the United boss told Omroep Gelderland on Sunday.
"What we wanted was an attack-minded left back and we see this in him. He trains very well, has a house and is completely settled here in England.
"You come from another culture, to another country at a big club. That's a big change. So it helps if someone like Robin [van Persie] has extensive experience in England. Of course they talk a lot with each other, that's understandable."
A loan exit for Buttner would leave United short of left-back options, with Brazilian Fabio's future at the club still unclear during his loan spell at QPR and youngster Zeki Fryers having controversially joined Tottenham last week for £3 million following a four-month stint at Standard Liege after leaving the Red Devils.
England youth international Tyler Blackett is a potential option for Ferguson to replace Buttner should he leave the club on a temporary basis, with the 18-year-old having travelled on United's pre-season tour to South Africa in July, while the club remain linked to the in-form Leighton Baines.
Goal.com exclusively revealed in June that United were preparing a move for the Everton man, but were unwilling to spend more than £12m for the former Wigan star - £5m less than the Toffees' valuation of the England international.
Baines has since played down a move away from Goodison Park, insisting that his sole aim is to secure Champions League football for David Moyes' side.
Follow David Lynch on