By Harry Sykes

Aston Villa fans have reacted with dismay at the possibility of Joey Barton joining the club in the January transfer window.

The Chronicle claim that manager Steve Bruce wants to land the controversial midfielder as he steps up his Villa overhaul.

Barton has agreed a pay-off deal with Rangers that will leave him free to join another club in the January window.

Leeds have also been credited with a strong interest in Barton as Garry Monk looks to guide the Championship club to a play-off spot this season, while Burnley boss Sean Dyche has previously refused to rule out a return to Turf Moor for Barton, 34, after a superb season last term that saw him lead the Clarets to the Championship title.

Bruce has achieved an immediate turnaround since taking over at Villa Park, steering the club to three wins and two draws in his first five matches in charge.

But supporters do not appear to have much faith in the experienced manager’s apparent interest in Barton, judging by their social media comments.

Here is a selection of their messages on Twitter:

The former Manchester City star had returned to training last Thursday, but was told to train with the Rangers’ academy side to work his way back into the good books of manager Mark Warburton.

Barton has had to endure taunts from home and away fans after a dismal start both on and off the pitch.

Poor performances on the pitch have led to calls claiming he was unfit, while an investigation led to Barton being charged for 44 counts of betting after joining Warburton’s side.

The 34-year-old midfielder is no stranger to controversy after receiving the Premier League’s second largest ban of 12 matches following his actions after a red card against Manchester City, as well as serving jail time during his Newcastle days.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, Bruce wants cover for an £8million ace and has turned to a 38-cap international.