Aston Villa eye Jeff Hendrick with Tim Sherwood seeking midfield goals

Usually when Premier League clubs are linked with swoops for a Derby County player, it’s highly-rated England Under-21 international Will Hughes. Keen to break the mould as ever, Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood is eyeing the Derby player’s engine room colleague Jeff Hendrick, according to the the national press.

Villa, 9/4 outsiders with Coral to upset Arsenal and win the FA Cup on May 30th, have really struggled for goals from midfield this season with Tom Cleverley and Fabian Delph scoring just twice each.

Republic of Ireland international Hendrick, 23, has netted nine times for the Rams across all competitions, but those efforts were in vain as Steve McClaren’s side fell spectacularly away from the Championship promotion picture and ended up outside the top six.

On-loan midfielder Cleverley is not certain to make his move to Villa Park permanent once his contract with Manchester United ends, as Everton are rumoured to hold interest in taking him on a free. The ex-England box-to-box flop played previously under Toffees boss Roberto Martinez during a temporary stint with Wigan Athletic.

Derby are set to pay the price for missing out on the play-offs and another chance at going up to the Premier League. Loan stars Darren Bent and Tom Ince have returned to their parent clubs, coincidentally Villa and Hull City respectively.

Should Sherwood steer the West Midlands outfit to FA Cup glory against the former Tottenham head coach’s old foes Arsenal, then Villa can offer Hendrick some European football for next season. That lure may be difficult to resist, especially as it would help raise his profile and help to establish himself as a regular at international level.

With seven caps to date since making his senior Ireland bow in February 2013, Hendrick has been on the fringes but always part of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s plans. Villa are not yet mathematically safe from relegation, but are 12/1 outsiders for the drop.