By Pete O’Rourke

Sheffield United, Fulham and Derby have joined Aston Villa in the race for free agent defender Todd Kane, Football Insider understands.

Football Insider revealed earlier this week that Dean Smith’s side are in the market to land the 25-year-old, whose contract at Chelsea expires this month.

The Premier League club were keen to keep hold of Kane, but they missed the deadline to take up their option in his contract allowing him to leave Stamford Bridge on a free transfer.

Kane enjoyed a successful season on loan at Hull, making 41 appearances in all competitions and chipping in with three goals for the Tigers.

A source with knowledge of the 25-year-old’s situation has told Football Insider that his impressive form for the Championship club has brought him on the radar of Villa, Sheffield United, Fulham and Derby as they look to strengthen their squads ahead of next season.

Sheffield United could be in need of a new right-back should they lose Celtic target George Baldock this summer, while Aston Villa are also in the market for full-back reinforcements after releasing Alan Hutton, Ritchie de Laet and Micah Richards at the end of the season.

Fulham are keen to strengthen their defensive options next season as they prepare for life back in the Championship.

Derby boss Frank Lampard is an admirer of Kane having played with him during his time at Chelsea and he fits the bill for them as he is a free agent, with finances set to be tight for the Rams this summer.

In other Aston Villa news, it can be REVEALED that the club are plotting a move to sign a Chelsea player available for FREE.