By Harry Sykes

Newcastle have turned their attention to signing Brentford striker Scott Hogan, according to a reliable journalist.

The Championship goal machine has been linked with a January departure from the Bees amid reported interest from Aston Villa, West Ham and Swansea.

Now the Guardian’s deputy news editor Ed Aarons has claimed that Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez is also keen on the striker as he aims to reinforce his front line for the second half of the season.

Aarons, who is one of the national newspaper’s transfer experts, made the revelation on his personal Twitter account on Wednesday evening that the north-east giants are “now looking” at Hogan.

Aarons does not state how much it would cost to entice Hogan from Griffin Park but he is out of contract next summer and could be available for a relatively bargain price.

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The Mail claim that second-tier outfit Brentford value their forward at around £10million.

Hogan has been quoted as saying that he would only leave the Bees for a Premier League club but Newcastle could appeal as they are the favourites to clinch automatic promotion from the Championship this season.

Benitez’s side have dropped to second position after losing to Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day but are widely regarded as having the best team in the second tier.

Hogan, 24, is the third leading scorer in the Championship with 13 goals from 23 matches this season, placing him behind only Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle (17) and Brighton’s Glenn Murray (14) in the league’s marksmen charts.

Hogan joined Brentford from Rochdale in the summer of 2014 and has an outstanding Championship record of 20 goals from 31 matches.

He missed much of the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons with serious knee injuries.

In other Newcastle transfer news, the club are leading the chase to signing a Premier League sensation.