Steve Bruce believes Conor Hourihane is proving to be a bargain for Aston Villa

Villa manager Steve Bruce reacts after a near miss during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on September 12, 2017 in Birmingham, England.

Aston Villa signed Conor Hourihane from Barnsley a year ago.

Manager of Aston Villa Steve Bruce during the pre season friendly match between Aston Villa and Watford  at Villa Park on July 29, 2017 in Birmingham, England.

Steve Bruce has told Aston Villa’s official website that the signing of Conor Hourihane has turned out to be a bargain.

Villa signed Hourihane from Barnsley for around £1 million just over a year ago, and the central-midfielder is starting to hit his top form now.

The Republic of Ireland international has established himself as a permanent starter in Steve Bruce’s side’s midfield, and the goals have been flowing of late.

Conor Hourihane (R) of Aston Villa celebrates with team mate Robert Snodgrass after scoring their fifth goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Bristol City at...

Hourihane has hit the back of the net nine times this season, including four times his last nine appearances.

And Bruce believes that the 27-year-old has proven to be a bargain addition for his side: “For £1 million or whatever we paid for him, he's been fantastic value.

“He enjoys playing football, training and all aspects of it.

"When he gets in and around the 18-yard box, he's a wonderful finisher.

Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa passes the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Bristol City at Villa Park on January 1, 2018 in Birmingham, England.

“He practices every day and is usually the last person out on the training ground doing extras.

“To get the amount of goals and assists he has, he can be very pleased. Let's hope he continues.”

Hourihane looks set to play a major role for Villa over the remainder of the campaign.

The claret and blues are pushing hard for automatic promotion, with Bruce’s side currently in third place in the Championship table.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch