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9th Jan, 2017 | 12:30pm

Reliable journalist delivers verdict on Rhodes to Aston Villa speculation

By Matt Farr

Aston Villa are still in the race to sign Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes this month – according to a reliable journalist.

The Middlesbrough striker has been tipped to leave the Riverside in the current transfer window after falling down the pecking order following the arrival of Alvaro Negredo in the summer.

However, with the Sun claiming that Middlesbrough were close to selling outcast David Nugent to Derby, many Aston Villa fans grew concerned that Rhodes could be staying after all.

Dom Shaw, who writes for the Middlesbrough Gazette, told the Birmingham Mail that Aston Villa should still remain hopeful of landing Rhodes this month.

But he added that selling him without a suitable replacement would leave them at risk if an injury crisis hits.

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“To sell Rhodes would leave Boro with just two recognised strikers,” Shaw said. “That leaves you one injury away from trouble.

“So should Rhodes agitate to leave this month, Boro would first need to replace him. And then there would need  be a deal that suits.

“I think it depends on what business they get wrapped up in terms of incomings.”

While Aston Villa have been reported to want to sign Rhodes on a permanent basis, Shaw also did not rule out the possibility of a loan move, but admitted it would be a last resort for Middlesbrough.

Rhodes has made just six appearances for the club in all competitions this season, and has yet to open his goalscoring account in the Premier League.

The Sun reported last month that Aston Villa had made him a top transfer target, and Steve Bruce’s side remain keen on landing the former Blackburn striker.

Villa sold Rudy Gestede to Middlesbrough earlier this month, while they lost both Jonathan Kodjia and Jordan Ayew to the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving them short of firepower.

In other Aston Villa news, Dion Dublin has admitted to rescuing this Aston Villa star from the brink.