Aston Villa are planning a bid for Barnsley midfielder Conor Hourihane, after Steve Bruce made a final check on the Irishman at the weekend, HITC Sport understands from sources close to the club.
Hourihane is one of the most in-demand players in the country after impressing for Barnsley this season.
The Barnsley captain has been one of the stars of the Championship so far this season and his performances have not gone unnoticed among some bigger clubs.
Barnsley's Conor Hourihane celebrates after winning the Sky Bet Football League One Play-Off Final
Hourihane is out of contract at Barnsley in the summer and he has so far failed to agree a new deal at Oakwell alerting his suitors.
Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers have been credited with an interest in the goalscoring midfielder, but Villa are hoping to win the race for the 25-year-old's signature.
Aston Villa Manager Steve Bruce watched Hourihane last weekend
Villa boss Bruce has made improving his midfield options one of his top priorities during this month's transfer window and he has made Hourihane one of his top targets.
Bruce worked with the midfielder during his time in charge at Sunderland and he watched him in action for Barnsley last Saturday in the FA Cup clash at Blackpool.
Barnsley are reluctant to lose their talisman, but they are bracing themselves for offers for Hourihane with Villa ready to firm up their interest with a bid for the midfield schemer.