Bristol City target teenage defensive starlet
Poole [right] in action for Newport County last season - image via southwalesargus.co.uk

Bristol City have declared their intention to sign 16-year-old Newport County defender Regan Poole, regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in English football.

The teenager made 12 appearances in League Two for Newport last season, and is thought to be interesting clubs as wide-ranging as Liverpool, Manchester United, Fulham and Cardiff City.

Poole has turned down contract offers from his club on two occasions despite manager Terry Butcher attempting to convince him to stay and, with only 12 months to run on his current deal, speculation is increasing that he could be lured away.

And now The Bristol Post has reported that the Robins have the young defender on their radar - and have now made Newport aware of their intentions to lure their prized asset away.

However, City are likely to face a good deal of competition for his signature from considerably more prestigious clubs as he has been on trial with Manchester United and is currently being assessed by Liverpool in a youth tournament in Germany.

Fulham boss Kit Symons also had two bids of £30,000 and £60,000 knocked back in January, though the Cottagers have not returned with a third offer since then.

Poole was shortlisted for the Football League Apprentice of the Year award in back February after becoming Newport's youngest ever player, and has since gone on to play for Wales U17s.

But former England international Butcher hopes that he can keep hold of the youngster for at least a little younger, citing his own experience as an important part of Poole's potential development.

"You can understand it, his head's being turned and all that sort of thing," he admitted.

"But he knows it's out there, he knows it's there for him or could be there for him if he continues to play on a regular basis.

"That's his aim and ambition. Regan will get to where he wants to go eventually, he has the talent.

"But I would like to think I know a thing or two about being a central defender and certainly feel I could develop his game further. The last thing he wants to do is go to a top club and not play."

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