Middlesbrough are eyeing a January move for Brentford’s Romaine Sawyers.
Boro boss Tony Pulis is searching for more creativity and sees Sawyers as the perfect man to aid a promotion push, Press Association Sport understands.
The midfielder has 18 months left on his contract at Griffin Park and, while Boro are yet to make an offer, they are mulling over a switch this month.
Aston Villa also remain keen on the St Kitts and Nevis international and head coach Dean Smith worked with Sawyers at Brentford and Walsall.
But Villa are unlikely to be free to move until the summer with Smith needing to sell first having inherited an unbalanced squad when he joined from Brentford in October.
Sawyers has made 115 appearances for the Bees, scoring eight times, since joining on a free transfer from Walsall in 2016.
He offers the imagination Pulis is looking for with Middlesbrough having scored just 28 goals in 26 league games – the same amount as second bottom Reading.
But they still sit fifth in the Sky Bet Championship, six points behind the top two, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Birmingham.
Midfielder Jonny Howson is yet to score in 26 appearances this term, while Stewart Downing has netted just twice, and Pulis is searching for more goals.
Britt Assombalonga is Boro’s top scorer with eight goals and fellow forward Martin Braithwaite joined Leganes on loan last week.
Brentford could struggle to keep Sawyers having laboured under Smith’s replacement Thomas Frank.
They are six points above the bottom three with Frank winning just three of his 15 games.