Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is set to step up his attempt to sign Chelsea's Steve Sidwell now the player has returned from holiday.

O'Neill is hoping to agree a fee with Chelsea - probably in the region of £5million - and then start holding talks with the former Reading midfielder.

The 25-year-old is one of O'Neill's main summer targets but Villa insisted reports last week that a deal had already been sorted out with the Blues were premature.

Sidwell is also understood to be attracting interest from Middlesbrough and Everton but Villa sources are confident they can land the player - if a fee and personal terms are thrashed out.

His capture would ease some of the pain for O'Neill should skipper Gareth Barry move to Liverpool.

The former Celtic boss would prefer to sign Sidwell sooner rather than later to integrate him into the squad before Villa start their Intertoto Cup campaign in less than a month.