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BBC journalist: Aston Villa in driving seat to land rival duo, vibe is deals done next week

By Matt Farr

Aston Villa are firmly in the driving seat to land the signatures of Barnsley pair Conor Hourihane and James Bree, according to a reliable journalist.

BBC Midlands correspondent Pat Murphy revealed on Twitter on Saturday that the players had their hearts set on a move to Villa Park, and were set to snub interest from elsewhere.

Villa boss Steve Bruce confirmed to the media on Friday that the club were still waiting to hear back from Barnsley in regards to their approach for Hourihane, while The Sun reported earlier this month that Bruce was also looking to pursue a deal for defender James Bree.

Murphy confirmed that bids have been submitted for both players, and that Villa could complete deals for both players next week. The exact nature of the bids, however, have not been confirmed.

Bruce has already landed midfielder Henri Lansbury from Nottingham Forest, but would snap up even more midfield quality in assist king Conor Hourihane.

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The 25-year-old has contributed five goals and 13 assists from 27 appearances for Barnsley this term. He has also been attracting interest from Villa’s promotion rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

His Tykes team-mate James Bree has also been shortlisted by Bruce as a long-term replacement for Scotland international Alan Hutton, who is out of contract in six months’ time.

Bree, 19, has also been a regular first-team figure at Oakwell this term, making 21 appearances.

Football Insider verdict

Hourihane is a formidable player, while Bree has also proven to be a handy defensive-asset with real potential. Both will be superb signings for Aston Villa if they can complete the deals, and along with Lansbury, would be a just reward for their patience and hard-work in the transfer market this month. Bruce may be no closer to signing a new striker or a winger, but Hourihane can provide plenty of goals from the midfield, and will add much-needed creativity in the final-third. Both players can have a big impact in the second-half of the season, and could potentially fire Villa back into the Premier League.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, fans react on Twitter as a bid is reportedly set to be tabled for striker Ross McCormack.

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