Aston Villa are expected to win the race for Reading fullback Nicky Shorey.

The Times says Villa are winning the battle for Shorey's signature after Reading were last night thought to have accepted a £3.5 million bid for the England left back, who has also attracted interest from Sunderland and Portsmouth.

Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, was hoping for permission to speak with Shorey, who would help Villa to replace Wilfred Bouma, who has a dislocated right ankle.