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Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill is plotting a £7million raid on old club Aston Villa for speedy England striker Gabby Agbonlahor.

O’Neill will be given cash to spend in the summer and has his sights on Agbonlahor, who thrived under the Northern Irishman when he was Villa manager and may be sold by the Brummies to create transfer funds.

Nicklas Bendtner is heading out at the end of his season-long loan from Arsenal, and O’Neill thinks a proven forward is a major priority for him to advance next season.

O’Neill knows his former employers are looking to reduce their budget, so the time is right to strike.

Villa will want a big price for Agbonlahor, but boss Alex McLeish may need to make a sacrifice to give him cash to sign his own new faces.

Agbonlahor’s place as Villa’s number one striker came under threat when Darren Bent arrived, ironically from Sunderland, and could become surplus if McLeish finds someone cheaper to take his place.

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