By support

1st May, 2017 | 3:30pm

Available on a free, Aston Villa in eight-club chase for defender - report

By Will Butcher

Aston Villa are one of eight clubs chasing Chester defender Sam Hughes, according to a report.

The Mail claims 20-year-old defender Hughes is interesting a whole host of clubs from both the Premier League and the Championship, after Barnsley had a £75,000 bid rejected in January.

It is believed that Premier League duo Burnley and Crystal Palace are keeping tabs on Hughes, while Barnsley, Aston Villa, Fulham, Wolves, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday are keen.

Hughes has starred in Chester’s side this term, captaining the fifth tier outfit despite his tender age during his 35 appearances in the National League this season.

The 6ft 2in centre-back is out of contract in the summer, and could be signed by any interested clubs on a free transfer when his deal at Chester ends in less than two months.

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Coming through Chester’s academy, Hughes has already made a huge 54 senior appearances for the Seals and has scored five goals from either right-back or centre-back.

Villa are likely to be active in the upcoming transfer market, as manager Steve Bruce looks to bolster his side in order to earn a fifth career promotion from the Championship.

Football Insider verdict:

Villa need cover at centre-back. Captain James Chester has been in fantastic form since moving to Villa Park in the summer, but Nathan Baker and Tommy Elphick have failed to hold down a permanent slot alongside him as the Wales international’s partner. Bringing in Hughes will provide cover for the trio without having to spend any money, allowing Bruce to use his funds elsewhere. Targeted by a whole host of sides, it is apparent that the youngster is good enough to rise up the leagues, but Hughes must be willing to work on the training ground and wait for an opportunity if he is to make the step up. Considering his price, and his quality so far with Chester, Hughes would be a top signing by manager Bruce.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, Bruce has also targeted this goalkeeper after he was frozen out of Celtic’s first team by Brendan Rodgers.

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