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Dean Smith refuses to confirm whether Joe Hart is an Aston Villa target

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is continuing his search for a goalkeeper but refused to confirm he has targeted former England number one Joe Hart.

A serious knee injury to first-choice Tom Heaton has left Villa scouring the January market for a replacement.

Norway keeper Orjan Nyland played in Saturday’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Fulham, with Croatian Lovre Kalinic providing cover on the bench.

When quizzed about the possibility of signing Hart, who is currently second choice at Burnley, Smith said: “There’s an awful lot of candidates that we’ve been looking at. I’m not going to give any names.

“Also the two we’ve got here, Kalinic and Nyland. They are both international goalkeepers, there’s opportunities for them.

“Nyland has been very good for me, there was not a lot he could have done with the two goals and his distribution was very good. We’re looking in the market at a number of things now.”

Smith held transfer talks with chief executive Christian Purslow and sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch on Friday night.

He added: “We’ve had a good chat about positions and players that we want. We’ve got to prioritise.

“January is a narrow window and I’m not sure there’s an awful lot of teams who will let players go that are playing for them at the moment. That narrows it down even more.

“But we have a lot of games coming up and we’d like to recruit as soon as possible.”

With a relegation battle and Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Leicester to contend with, the FA Cup was well down the list of Smith’s priorities and he made nine changes to his starting line-up.

Championship promotion hopefuls Fulham took full advantage through long-range strikes from Anthony Knockaert and Harry Arter, either side of Anwar El Ghazi’s tap-in.

It meant a winning debut for defender Michael Hector, who agreed a move from Chelsea in September but was ineligible to play until the turn of the year.

“I’m buzzing,” he told Fulham TV. “It’s been frustrating having to watch football when you’re fully fit. I can’t wait to kick on now for the rest of the season.”