HITC Sport understands Aston Villa are stepping up interest in QPR star.

Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce is stepping up his interest in Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Alex Smithies, HITC Sport understands from sources close to the club.

Bruce has made the signing of a new goalkeeper one of his top priorities during this month’s transfer window.

Queens Park Rangers’ Alex Smithies

Bruce dropped Italian goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini for last month’s win at QPR with Mark Bunn replacing Gollini who had started the season as No.1 keeper at Villa Park.

Bunn has now started the last four games for Villa, but Bruce is determined to add to his goalkeeping options and Smithies figures highly on his wanted list.

QPR’s Alex Smithies saves the penalty from Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia

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Smithies impressed Bruce during Villa’s 1-0 win at Loftus Road in December, making a number of saves including a penalty from Jonathan Kodjia and Bruce was at Molineux last weekend to cast an eye over Smithies during QPR’s 2-1 win over Wolves.

Former England Under-21 international Smithies has been QPR’s stand-out performer so far this season despite their struggles at the wrong end of the Championship table.

Smithies, who joined QPR from Huddersfield in January 2015, has been an ever-present in the Championship this season and has established himself as a key man at Loftus Road.

QPR would be reluctant to lose Smithies this month, but Bruce could test their resolve to keep hold of the 26-year-old as he looks to solve his goalkeeping problem at Villa Park.

Aston Villa Manager Steve Bruce

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