Barnsley: Reds captain Conor Hourihane says Aston Villa speculation has unsettled him

Conor Hourihane
Conor Hourihane
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Reds captain Conor Hourihane admitted his head has been turned by Aston Villa’s interest.

The Reds are haggling over the price of their key man’s potential move away from Oakwell.

Villa boss Steve Bruce stated in his pre-match press conference before the weekend that he was waiting on the Yorkshire club to get back to him regarding the deal.

However, nothing was finalised between the two clubs and Hourihane netted his sixth goal of the season as his decisive free-kick grabbed the points - and bragging rights - against rivals Leeds United on Saturday.

“Aston Villa is a fantastic club,” said the Irishman, who has the most assists in the division with 11.

“When a manager like Steve Bruce comes looking for you, it does turn your head a little bit but we’ll see what happens next week.”

Hourihane is out of contract in the summer and a move to Villa Park is edging ever closer.

The central midfielder, who has been an influential part of the Reds’ remarkable rise over the past 18 months, would earn almost £30,000-a-week - a huge boost from his current earnings at Oakwell.

The 25-year-old and Villa owner Tony Xia have followed each other on Twitter sparking intense debate among fans on social media.

The Birmingham-based club could wait to try and snap up the player for free in the summer, but then they would be among numerous clubs trying to secure his services.

Hourihane has been on Bruce’s radar for a while and scout Richard Hill watched on from the stands as he bagged the third goal on Saturday.

Promising right-back James Bree is also a target for Villa, but a deal to take him away from Paul Heckingbottom’s club could be a tougher one to get over the line.

The Reds could quite easily let the youngster wait out his deal, which also expires in the summer, because they would still get a tribunal fee for the defender.

Bree is also believed to be attracting the interest of a number of Premier League clubs.