Simon Grayson has admitted Leeds United would be interested in signing Alan Smith on loan if the former England international is made available by Newcastle United.
The possible return to Elland Road of the 30-year-old, who has started just one game for the Magpies since mid-November, has been the subject of increasingly intense speculation in Leeds since the transfer window opened earlier this month.
United, who have also been linked with a move for former defender Jonathan Woodgate, are in the market for someone to fill the central midfield role left vacant by Neil Kilkenny's current involvement in the Asia Cup with Australia.
Grayson is at pains to stress that no approach has been made to Toon chief Alan Pardew, but has not ruled out doing so in the future.
He said: "Alan Smith is a good player. Forget any affinity he has got with the club in the past; if you could get a player of his ability then obviously you would have to be interested.
"Alan Smith is a good player, Jonathan Woodgate is a good player and we want good players at this football club – whether it is those two individuals or others that I manage to slip under the
radar and sign before the end of the window.
"You look at those players and analyse them; they have fantastic footballing ability, experience and know-how. They know what the game is all about. That is why so many clubs would be interested in them if allowed to leave."
On Smith's possible availability, Grayson added: "No one knows if Alan Smith is available. Alan Pardew is the only one. I have not asked that question. Whether I intend to, we will have to wait and see where we go with it."
Smith spent the first six years of his career at Leeds before being sold to Manchester United following his hometown club's relegation from the Premier League in 2004.
His decision to join Leeds's bitterest rivals went down so badly with some sections of the Elland Road support that even now, six-and-a-half years on, a possible return has led to a split in opinion between those fans in favour of the move and those who are against.
Asked if the reaction from the terraces would be a factor in deciding whether to try to bring Smith back to West Yorkshire, United manager Grayson replied: "It won't have any bearing on me. I will do what is best for the club in terms of bringing in players that will make us better. Whatever signing you make, fans have different opinions on things.
"That would be the case if bringing back any ex-player to the club, whether it is Alan Smith, Woodgate, Harry Kewell or any of the others who left. I will sign players, not based on that, but what they can do for the club in the future."