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Hughes makes Given his No.1 target

QUEENS Park Rangers are hoping to exploit the uncertainty at Aston Villa by signing goalkeeper Shay Given.

If they fail they will turn to West Ham United’s Robert Green, who is out of contract next month.

If Green leaves then West Ham, who secured an immediate return to the Premier League with Saturday’s play-off victory over Blackpool, are likely to move for either Blackburn Rovers’ Paul Robinson or Bolton’s Jussi Jaaskelainen, who have both previously worked with manager Sam Allardyce.

Sunderland are also believed to be interested in Green, who is expected to leave Upton Park but will hold fresh talks with the club over a new deal.

QPR manager Mark Hughes has identified Irish international Given as one of his key targets this summer with the likelihood being that Paddy Kenny, his current first-choice goalkeeper, will leave to be reunited at Leeds United with former manager Neil Warnock.

The bond between Hughes and Given is also strong with the manager having signed the 36-year-old Republic of Ireland international for Manchester City from Newcastle United in early 2009. Given was one of several City players angered by Hughes’ sacking later that year.

QPR, having narrowly avoided relegation this month, are to undergo a huge rebuilding of the first-team squad this summer. Captain Joey Barton, who faces a lengthy ban for his behaviour in the final Premier League match of the season when he was sent off against City, is likely to be asked to leave the club.

Given signed a five-year contract at Villa, for a fee of £3.5 million, only last summer but with the club uncertain as to who will be the manager next season after a hugely disappointing campaign and with doubts over the ambitions of owner Randy Lerner, QPR are considering making an offer.

Villa are understood to have a four-strong short-list to succeed Alex McLeish, who was sacked after the club only narrowly avoided relegation.

It is headed by Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, the coach of Norwegian club Molde, Norwich City’s Paul Lambert, Wigan Athletic’s Roberto Martinez and Villa reserve team coach Kevin MacDonald, who was interviewed last week.

However, there are deep concerns over the scale of investment planned this summer by Lerner while QPR are pushing ahead with a transfer policy to try to establish themselves in the Premier League and are promising Hughes the funds to compete.

A permanent deal for on-loan midfielder Samba Diakaé is being discussed with new deals having been agreed with Kieron Dyer, who has agreed a one-year extension, Jamie Mackie, Clint Hill, Akos Buzsaky and reserve goalkeeper Radek Cerny.

QPR have also released eight out-of-contract players: Patrick Agyemang, Gary Borrowdale, Lee Cook, Danny Gabbidon, Fitz Hall, Peter Ramage, Danny Shittu and Rowan Vine.

West Ham are also drawing up their plans for the Premier League and would be interested in re-signing former midfielder Joe Cole — but only if Liverpool hugely subsidise his wages, of at least £90,000 a week, as they have done at Lille. Cole is also attracting interest from big-spending Paris St-Germain.