Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill will try to tempt Sunderland to sell star sriker Kenwyne Jones - but must go to around £12 million to get his hit man.
The Villa chief sent top scout Ian Storey-Moore to watch Jones put on a powerful show against Middlesbrough on Saturday and that confirms his status as their current first-choice target.
Sunderland do not want to sell Jones and have already let Chelsea know he is unavailable - but Villa have the money and the need to land Jones for their bid to make the top four in the Premier League.
Jones is settled at Sunderland but O'Neill could try to change that with an offer that would test the resolve of Sunderland and their heirarchy who have curbed the free spending of the Roy Keane days.
O'Neill knows he may not get much out of John Carew this season and badly needs a physical presence in his attack.
Villa fear Heskey is bound for Liverpool and know that Santa Cruz is too expensive, leaving Jones as the only domestic target available. O'Neill may have to go abroad if he fails - and he prefers to buy people with Premier experience.