Aston Villa are ready to enter the chase to land Middlesbrough ace David Wheater, skysports.com understands.
The Teesside-born defender is out-of-contract at the end of the season and as he turns 24 in February, he is eligible to leave on a Bosman free transfer at the end of the season.
Boro have made it clear they would like him to stay, but they would also be loathed to lose him for nothing and are now ready to sell.
Wheater, who has been called into the England senior squad under Fabio Capello, is already attracting strong interest from around the Premier League.
Stoke, Everton and local rivals Newcastle are amongst those known to be keen.
Aston Villa were previously linked when Martin O'Neil was in charge at Villa Park, and now they are set to renew their interest.
It is understood that Gerard Houllier's number two Gary McAllister, who was a first-team coach at Boro under Gordon Strachan, has recommended the defender to the Frenchman, and he is now considering a bid.
Meanwhile, Boro are also set to listen to offers for Gary O'Neil - who is known to be one of the highest earners at the club.
The former Portsmouth ace is being tipped to move back to the Premier League with West Ham, Wolves, Stoke and Blackburn all strongly linked.