By support

13th Jan, 2017 | 5:50am

BBC journalist: Bruce eyes late Aston Villa swoop for assist machine after rivals table bid

By Matt Farr

Sheffield Wednesday have tabled a £1million offer for Barnsley assist machine Conor Hourihane, according to a reliable journalist.

Jonathan Buchan, who works for BBC Radio Sheffield, revealed on Twitter on Thursday that the Championship club had opened negotiations with Barnsley over a transfer for the midfielder.

The 25-year-old has also been attracting interest from Aston Villa, but Steve Bruce’s side have yet to make any formal approach.

However, Sheffield Wednesday’s opening bid is likely to force Bruce into speeding up his pursuit of the Barnsley star.

Hourihane, who has been capped by Republic of Ireland’s youth sides, has been the standout performer for Barnsley this season, accumulating five goals and 12 assists from just 25 appearances in all competitions.

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Aston Villa boss Bruce is in the market for several new additions this month, and is eager to bolster his midfield options in particular.

The club have already made an approach worth £3 million for Nottingham Forest star Henri Lansbury, but with just six months left on his contract, Hourihane also remains a priority target.

Football Insider verdict

Hourihane would be a fantastic signing for Villa. He ticks all the boxes, and Villa must act quickly if they are to scupper Sheffield Wednesday’s bid to land him. He has established himself as a prolific goalscoring central-midfielder, having netted 30 goals from just two-and-a-half seasons with the club. and Bruce does not currently have someone of that criteria in his arsenal. With his contract set to expire in just six months, he will be available for much cheaper than many of the club’s other January targets, and Bruce should do everything in his power to ensure Hourihane is an Aston Villa player by the end of January – preferably sooner. They have promotion ambitions, and he could prove to be the difference between returning to the Premier League or enduring another year in the second-tier.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, Villa have also joined the race to sign Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney.

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