Boro star Joe Bennett set to join Premier League Aston Villa

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MIDDLESBROUGH look like cashing in on young defender Joe Bennett set to join Aston Villa in a deal worth around £3million.

Boro boss Tony Mowbray said there have been “conversations” with the Premier League basement club who are closing in on the England U21 left-back.

Villa boss Paul Lambert had said yesterday: “Hopefully something might happen.

“Has a bid gone in? Near enough.”

Mowbray stopped short, just, of saying that Bennett was off to Villa Park but admitted if Lambert made the right offer they would find it hard to turn down.

Bennett did not play in last night’s Capital One Cup win at Gillingham, where summer signing George Friend, again, looked assured in the left-back slot.

“We’ve had conversations with Aston Villa over the last few days,” admitted Mogga. “Joe is not a player we are in any rush to move on, I think he has done exceptionally well.

“To put it into context he was out of the picture 20 months ago and on his way to Bristol on loan.

“But he has done exceptionally well for us he’s a very talented individual who we are in no rush to let go.

“Yet, like all our players, if the numbers get to the right valuation then we need to consider it.

“George Friend has come in and shown he can do a decent job.

“We’ll have to wait and see, wouldn’t be putting any rubber stamps on that deal happening yet, but there has been a conversation or two.”

While Boro look set to lose the services of Bennett to the Premier League, an injury looks like depriving them of the services of skipper Rhys Williams.

The Australian international went down in agony at Gillingham last night with damaged ankle ligaments, a problem which has affected the 24-year-old in the past.

Mowbray was unsure how long his new skipper may be missing.

“Time will tell,” he told BBC Tees.

“We’ll have a scan and see what it produces.”