ASTON VILLA are increasingly likely to clinch a deal to appoint Rangers boss Steven Gerrard as their new manager.

The 41-year-old has emerged as the prime candidate for the Villa Park board as they seek to replace Dean Smith following his sacking last weekend.

Gerrard is contracted to Rangers until the summer of 2024 - the same time that Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool deal expires - but could now be on his way out of Ibrox sooner rather than later.

Villa are keen to have their new manager in place before the Premier League fixture with Brighton and Hove Albion a week on Saturday as they return to action after the international break.

Gerrard was due to lead Rangers out at Hampden the following day as the champions aim to overcome Hibernian and book a place in the Premier Sports Cup final.

But Villa are now poised to make a formal approach to Rangers and attempt to strike a multi-million compensation deal to take Gerrard back to England after three-and-a-half years at Ibrox.

The Liverpool legend guided Rangers to an invincible Premiership title last term as Celtic were thwarted in their bid for ten-in-a-row but he has failed to win cup silverware during his tenure.

Gerrard voiced his frustration at his backing in the transfer market following the Europa League defeat to Sparta Prague and is thought to be open to the prospect of a return south of the border.

The loss of Gerrard would be a huge blow for Rangers at this stage of the campaign and the Ibrox board may now be facing a losing battle as Villa prepare to step up their interest in the former England captain.