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Aston Villa plot audacious triple Premier League swoop for next term

Aston Villa, 7/1 shots with Coral to be relegated, have already begun identifying ambitious targets to avoid a repeat of being sucked into the scrap for survival next season.

Paul Lambert wants to reinforce the spine of his West Midlands side by bringing in three players with Premier League experience. One more win from their remaining three games should be enough to preserve the club’s top-flight status.

The names liked with summer switches to Villa Park in the tabloids are Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott; Tottenham playmaker Lewis Holtby, who is currently on loan at strugglers Fulham; and out of favour Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez.

Lambert is keen to supplement the core of his young Villa team with proven Premier League names, especially in defence and attack. Left-footed centre back Lescott, 31, becomes a free agent at the end of the season, but would have to take a substantial pay cut to return to his native Birmingham.

Germany international Holtby, meanwhile, appears surplus to requirements at Spurs, because head coach Tim Sherwood allowed him to join London rivals Fulham in January. Tottenham also signed another playmaker, Christian Eriksen, last summer and he has been markedly more successful at White Hart Lane.

It is clear Mexico frontman Hernandez, 25, is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, despite the vacancy in the Red Devils dugout. Villa will face stiff competition for his services, however, with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Spurs all reportedly keen on capturing Chicharito.

Should Lambert be given the go-ahead to lure these names to Villa Park, it would be a clear departure from the frugal financial policy instigated by club owner Randy Lerner in recent seasons.

Villa spent big under Martin O’Neill, but failed to break into the top four. Subsequent campaigns have been spent in mid-table mediocrity, but the West Midlands outfit has never been relegated in the Premier League era. They are heavily odds-on at 1/20 to stay up.