By Harry Sykes

Aston Villa are among the three favourites to sign Joey Barton in the January transfer window, according to the latest bookmakers’ odds.

Betting firm Sky Bet have placed odds of 3/1 on Barton signing for the Championship big hitters when the winter winter opens.

Villa are behind only Derby, who are priced at 1/1, and Burnley, who are 7/4, in the running to land the controversial midfielder.

The fourth favourites are Cardiff, who are a distant 16/1 in the bookmaker’s odds.

Barton was released by Rangers at the end of last week following a disastrous four-month spell at the Scottish club.

Villa have been one of the clubs credited with an interest in Barton, along with second-tier rivals Derby and Premier League outfit Burnley.

The Chronicle claimed last Wednesday that Steve Bruce wants to land the controversial midfielder Barton 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.

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.

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