Aston Villa intend to sell midfielder Conor Hourihane in late-August as Dean Smith wants to bed in younger options to his squad next season, according to Birmingham Live.

Hourihane is back among Smith’s options as the new campaign draws closer after returning from a loan spell with Swansea. Fans chanted the Irishman’s name during recent friendlies with Walsall and Stoke, but his future in Birmingham remains uncertain.

Aston Villa would like to move Hourihane on as he is in the final year of his £30,000-per-week contract. But the Villans are yet to receive any offers or approaches for the 30-year-old. The Athletic had recently reported that West Brom and Sheffield United want him.

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Birmingham Live expect the Championship is the most likely destination for Hourihane if the playmaker does leave Aston Villa. The 26-cap international offered Swansea five goals and two assists in 19 appearances to fire them into the play-offs, losing to Brentford in the final.

Smith is not rushing to sell Hourihane before the new campaign starts as Morgan Sanson is nursing a knee injury. The Cork-born maestro’s application and professionalism in pre-season also impressed the Villans boss and his coaching team.

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Hourihane is still hopeful that he can convince Aston Villa to award him a new contract, as well. But that is unlikely, as Villans chiefs want to offload his wages by late-August as Smith looks to younger options.

Smith wants to offer Jacob Ramsey, his younger brother Aaron and Carney Chukwuemeka opportunities to progress their careers in Birmingham. Jacob made his Premier League bow in September, but only started six of his 22 outings over the 2020/21 season.

Aston Villa want profit on £2m paid to Barnsley for Hourihane in 2017

One of the issues Aston Villa may be facing in their so far unsuccessful efforts to drum up interest in Hourihane is their asking price. The Athletic reported in June that the Villans value the Irishman at in excess of the £2m paid to Barnsley.

Smith’s side hope to make a ‘healthy’ profit on their investment, despite the midfielder’s contractual situation. Championship sides may be unwilling to offer lucrative amounts for the 30-year-old given his wage, as well.

So, Hourihane may yet get his chance to show Aston Villa why he should be kept at the club long-term. Especially with Smith waiting on Sanson’s return due to injury, leaving a role available for the Irishman to potentially occupy.

Hourihane’s application and professionalism in pre-season also impressed Smith. Which will not have been a surprise, as they are key to what makes the midfielder the player he is.

“He was excellent,” ex-Swansea boss Steve Cooper said, via the Irish Independent, in January. “He’s been so impressive from the day he’s come through the door, which wasn’t that long ago. You can see that he’s a real focused professional, an individual that’s not only going to bring what he possesses, but he really wants to buy into what we’re doing.”