By Alan Hutton

20th Jul, 2021 | 4:00pm

Alan Hutton delivers Hourihane verdict after Rangers signing completed

Alan Hutton has admitted “the time is probably right” for Conor Hourihane to leave Aston Villa permanently.

The former Villa man, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the midfielder could replace new Rangers star John Lundstram at Sheffield United.

According to The Athletic, both United and West Bromwich Albion are interested in signing the 30-year-old this summer.

Hourihane spent the second half of last season on loan with Championship side Swansea City.

He contributed five goals and two assists to help the Swans to the play-off final, where they lost to Brentford.

Asked what he thought of Hourihane’s situation, Hutton told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “He’s in the last year of his contract, and he’s been an amazing servant.

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“However, the time is probably right for him to move on.

“I can’t see it being a loan deal since he has just one year left, Villa will be looking to sell him on.

“He deserves to be playing for a top-end Championship side, he’s got the ability to play at that level – and higher.

“Sheffield United would be a good move, he’s definitely got that captain mentality. They’ve obviously lost [John] Lundstram as well to Rangers, so there’s a void left for Conor.

“Sheffield United are the sort of team he can settle into and thrive at.”

The 26-cap midfielder joined Villa from Barnsley in 2017.

Hourihane, who has 26 caps to his name, joined Villa from Barnsley in January 2017.

He has played 150 times for VIlla and was integral to their return to the top flight in 2019.

In other news, Aston Villa are readying a bid for a youngster recommended by none other than Lionel Messi.