Hourihane on verge of sealing lucrative £3m Villa switch
Corkman Conor Hourihane is expected to make a significant career move this week by leaving Barnsley to join Aston Villa.
The 25-year-old is out of contract in the summer and a string of outstanding performances in the Championship this term has accelerated his departure, with interested parties prepared to pay a fee to get him six months early.
Sheffield Wednesday were very keen to sign the midfielder by offering him a substantial payrise, but Aston Villa have made the strongest move to secure his services.
Steve Bruce's side are ready to pay a fee in the region of £3m - double the original figure that was mentioned - and bump up Hourihane's salary to wages that would be Premier League territory.
Villa are in the process of rebuilding and signed Nottingham Forest skipper Henri Lansbury last week. Hourihane is Barnsley's captain and his reputation has soared since joining from Plymouth in 2014.
He scored a stunning free-kick in the Yorkshire derby win over Leeds on Saturday in what could prove to be his last match for the club. The player admitted afterwards that it was flattering to be linked with Villa.
Elsewhere, Derby boss Steve McClaren has offered the opinion that Richard Keogh is the best defender in the English second tier.
McClaren is back for a second stint at Derby after a dismal spell at Newcastle, and one of his first acts at St James' Park was an unsuccessful attempt to bring Keogh on board.
"I said to him last week, he is the best centre-back in the Championship," said McClaren. "His defending has improved."
At home, Limerick have added another nationality to their dressing-room for 2017 by signing French midfielder Bastian Hery, a one-time PSG trainee who has been in the English lower leagues for the past four years.
Martin Russell signed experienced Brazilian striker Rodrigo Tosi over the weekend.