EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke

Aston Villa are stepping up their interest in Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos after watching him action on Friday night, Football Insider sources understand.

Villa’s chief scout Tony Coton was in attendance at McDiarmid Park on Friday night to watch Rangers beat St Johnstone 3-0 with Morelos understood to be the focus of his attention.

A source close to the situation has told Football Insider that Rangers are braced for Morelos bids in the January window but do not want to lose him halfway through the season.

Morelos failed to score in the 3-0 win over St Johnstone, but he has netted eight goals in 13 games since his arrival in Scotland this summer from HJK Helsinki.

The Colombian was a prolific goalscorer in Finland with HJK Helsinki, scoring 46 times in 62 appearances and his form for Rangers has brought him to the attention of several clubs across Europe, including Villa.

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The well-placed source has told Football Insider that Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce is in the market for a striker when the transfer window reopens in January and Morelos is thought to figure highly on his wanted list as a swoop is lined up.

Former European Cup winners Villa have made space for striking reinforcements after farming out Ross McCormack to Melbourne City on loan and Bruce is hoping to get the nod to bring in a new forward in the New Year.

In other Rangers transfer news, a £7.5million midfielder is firmly in the running to be the club’s next signing.

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