ASTON Villa are eyeing up a surprise move to sign James Ward-Prowse, according to a report in The Guardian.

The Saints skipper is currently with the England squad ahead of tonight's friendly against Romania in Middlesbrough.

Ward-Prowse is part of a six-man standby list for Euro 2020, having missed out on a spot in the initial 26-man squad.

The midfielder has played every minute for Saints in each of the past two seasons, with his performances this campaign rewarded with a plethora of individual honours.

Ward-Prowse was named Daily Echo supporters' player of the year, as well as receiving the official club fans' player and players' player of the year gongs.

And the Guardian claim Ward-Prowse's displays have attracted the interest of Premier League rivals Aston Villa, with the Midlands club reportedly "set to make a move" to try and sign the 26-year-old.

Ward-Prowse's set-piece prowess is said to have particularly piqued boss Dean Smith's interest.

Saints won 4-3 at Villa Park in November, with Ward-Prowse scoring two stunning free-kicks, as well as providing an assist from a corner.

Villa are understood to also be closing in on a club-record £30million signing of Norwich City star midfielder Emi Buendia.

Smith's side finished 11th in the league last season, four places and 12 points above Saints.