Bruce lining up double-swoop to secure Aston Villa’s Premier League return

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Aston Villa fans will want to keep their eyes peeled next month, with boss Steve Bruce looking to secure the signing of two well-known names for the Championship outfit’s promotion push.

First up is Jordan Rhodes, whose future looks all but over at Middlesbrough, and the second is Robbie Brady, a man Bruce knows well from their Hull City days.

Granted, a tilt for a Premier League return may seem unlikely at this stage with the Villans in 14th spot.

But the bookies odds of 9/2 on Villa going up this term reflect just how strongly they are regarded in the second tier.

And since Bruce took charge, the boys in claret and blue have lost just once.

The former Wigan boss has already reduced a 10-point deficit to the play-off spots to just four points, and the latest transfer connections suggest Bruce is ready to go all out in the second half of the campaign.

Rhodes has made just five Premier League appearances this term, and only twice has the Scottish striker featured for more than 31 minutes.

But few men know how to beat Championship defences better than the 26-year-old, who rifled in a stunning 83 goals in just 159 appearances with Blackburn.

That included 52 goals in his first 89 second-tier games at the Ewood Park club, and three seasons in which he broke the 20-goal barrier.

His contract runs until 2020, but given his game-time under Aitor Karanka this term, Boro may well listen to any respectable offers, while a loan deal could also be on the cards.

And with Rhodes up front, Bruce will be hoping Norwich City’s Robbie Brady will be on board to supply the Scot.

The pair know each other well from their days on Humberside, and the lure of reuniting with Bruce at a club of Villa’s stature will understandably appeal.

With the Canaries plummeting in the table, and their promotion hopes fading too, the Republic of Ireland international could well be swayed next month, with Villa reportedly preparing a £10m deal.

Sign Rhodes and Brady in January, and Villa might just be eyeing up an automatic promotion spot, let alone the play-offs.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.