Aston Villa are favourites for unsettled Liverpool striker Peter Crouch.

The Independent says Crouch, despite his popularity and undoubted effectiveness, had been deemed surplus to requirements by Rafael Benitez just a few weeks ago. The manager authorised executives to contact clubs to see what they would bid for the striker, with Aston Villa showing the keenest interest.

That deal, for upwards of £10m, may be shelved given the conflict that has exploded between Benitez and the club's owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who are, despite denials, unlikely to sanction any significant sales, or arrivals in the January transfer window.