COMMENT By Matt Farr

Aston Villa have set the pace for their fellow Championship rivals in the transfer market, having wasted little time going in pursuit of new recruits.

A new striker is high on the agenda now with Jonathan Kodjia and Jordan Ayew on Africa Cup of Nations duty, while Rudy Gestede left the club last week to join Middlesbrough.

Their search for a new goalscorer continues, but Steve Bruce has also made a left-sided midfielder another top priority this month.

Jack Grealish remains the only real quality option at his disposal, and Bruce has looked at the likes of Stewart Downing, Jeffrey Schlupp and Robbie Brady to address the issue.

However, the club are making less progress than they would perhaps like in pursuit of one of their preferred targets, with Downing in particular reportedly reluctant to drop down to the Championship.

Bruce currently has enough options in mind to keep himself busy in the transfer market, but there may come a time when he is faced with being unable to land any of his preferred targets.

If that should happen, he needs a contingency plan, and while he has struck a preference for Premier League talent, Peterborough’s Marcus Maddison would be a handy addition.

They should set aside the fact that Maddison is currently plying his trade in the division below, and should focus purely on how he has been performing for Peterborough.

The 23-year-old has been in fine form for the League One leaders this season, contributing six goals and 11 assists from 28 appearances in all competitions – a run of form that arguably deserves a shot at bigger and brighter things.

It can be argued that Maddison is not of the desired calibre that Aston Villa might be looking for in an attempt to create a squad worthy of Premier League status. But, would he improve the squad? Yes.

He has gone from strength to strength with the Posh, and has become known for his incisive dribbling and shooting ability – that shines through in his return for the current campaign.

He could also inject much-needed pace into the Villa attacking-third, with several of Bruce’s current attacking options lacking in speed and acceleration attributes.

Peterborough chairman Darragh McAnthony claimed on Twitter on Friday that Aston Villa had sent club legend Brian Little to watch Maddison in action over the course of the season, but there have been no confirmed reports of any interest from Bruce’s side.

Given his worth to the team, it is likely that Peterborough will do everything in their power to resist any potential approach from Aston Villa, but with the prospects on offer at Villa Park, they’ve got a lot in their locker to prize him away.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, fans on Twitter have urged Bruce to re-sign this former striker.

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