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West Brom eye Federico Fernandez

West Bromwich Albion will have to push the boat out if they are serious about targeting Argentine international Federico Fernandez as the solution to their defensive concerns.

Steve Clarke is in favour of giving young English talent a chance
Steve Clarke is keeping a close eye on Federico Fernandez.

The Hawthorns hierarchy have enquired about the 24-year-old and would be interested in taking him on loan with a view to a permanent move. But his club Napoli insist it has to be a sale or nothing, and the fee for an outright purchase could be as high as £7 million.

Fernandez is down the pecking order at the Italian club and is desperate for a stage to perform on so he can keep his place in Argentina's side in the countdown to the World Cup finals.

He was borrowed for part of last season by Getafe and the Spanish club are thought to be rivalling Albion now.

One factor in the Baggies' favour is that Fernandez's countryman Claudio Yacob was signed in the last summer window and has made a success of his first spell in the Premier League.

Albion have made only one permanent addition to their squad since finishing eighth last season - much-travelled striker Nicolas Anelka - and their last three games in May sparked some apprehension.

They conceded 12 goals in those matches and have only Gabriel Tamas, specialist left-back Liam Ridgewell and top-flight rookie Craig Dawson as the only cover behind Jonas Olsson and the veteran Gareth McAuley.

The move for Fernandez strongly suggests that the centre of defence is one of the priority areas for head coach Steve Clarke, who recently said that he hoped to make another four signings before the window shuts on September 2.

Albion have home friendlies against continental opposition this week when they face Greek club Atromitos and Genoa on Thursday. The games are at Shrewsbury and Telford respectively because of work being carried out at The Hawthorns.

Fernandez, who is 6ft 2in and the holder of 18 senior international caps, previously played for Estudiantes.

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