EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke

Aston Villa are working on a deal to sign Barry Town defender Macauley Southam-Hales permanently during this month’s transfer window, Football Insider understands.

Former Cardiff City youngster Southam-Hales has caught the eye for Barry Town this season, helping them to the top of the Welsh Premier League.

The 22-year-old has been a virtual ever-present in the Barry side this season and his outstanding performances have brought him to the attention of clubs higher up the football pyramid.

A well-placed source has told Football Insider the likes of Championship trio Aston Villa,Ipswich and Bolton as well as League One hopefuls Barnsley have made regular checks on Southam-Hales this season and he has impressed them.

Southam-Hales, who has been converted into a right-back from a midfielder, came through the ranks at Cardiff before joining Barry in the summer of 2017and he has played for Wales at various youth levels.

Villa are keen to bolster their full-back options this month as regular right-back Alan Hutton has been forced to play at left-back for a number of games this season and they see Southam-Hales as someone with the potential to make the step-up to the Championship.

Barry Town are unlikely to stand in Southam-Hales’ way to return to the professional ranks if one of his suitors make a sizeable offer for his services.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, the club have made a move to sign a Sheffield Wednesday ace as talks over a deal have begun.