TOMMY Elphick is moving closer to a permanent move to Reading FC.

The Aston Villa centre-back joined Royals on loan in January until the end of the season.

It is believed the 30-year-old defender is now on the verge of a permanent switch to Madejski Stadium.

Royals supporters rarely got to see the best of Elphick during his loan spell.

Brought in by former boss Jaap Stam, he suffered a serious knee injury in a 2-0 home defeat to Millwall on February 3 in only his second appearance for the club.

The ex-Bournemouth and Brighton player required an operation to fix the problem and did not return to the first team until the shock 4-0 home reverse to Ipswich in the penultimate game of the season.

But Elphick gave a fine display of his true qualities on the final day by helping Royals claim a 0-0 draw at Cardiff City to secure their Championship status for next season.

It is understood Reading are now ready to take up the option of signing Elphick permanently, a decision boss Paul Clement could be eager to push through given speculation linking Player of the Year Liam Moore with Premier League Brighton.

Reading Chronicle:

Aston Villa's Tommy Elphick.

Elphick’s chances of regular football under Villa boss Steve Bruce appear to be slim as he faces stiff competition from the likes of James Chester and Christopher Samba.

Meanwhile, Italian media are suggesting Royals keeper Vito Mannone is seeking a move back to his home country, with Sampdoria showing an interest.

The 30-year-old former Sunderland, Hull City and Arsenal stopper was brought in by Jaap Stam to replace double Player of the Year winner, Ali Al-Habsi in summer 2016.

Clement has made one signing this summer with the capture of Barnsley right-back and captain, Andy Yiadom.

He has also been linked with Portsmouth defender, Matt Clarke, Barnsley winger, Adam Hammill, Chelsea youngster, Mason Mount, and Czech Republic striker, Michael Krmencik, of Viktoria Plzen.

But the Plymouth Herald yesterday reported Ruben Lameiras will not be coming to Reading following reports Clement was chasing the 23-year-old midfielder.

Sheffield United are also eyeing the £300,000-rated playmaker, but it appears he is happy to remain with the Pilgrims at this stage.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading manager, Paul Clement.

Clement recently spoke of his intentions for this summer’s transfer window, saying: "Things haven't gone well this season, but that's not a reason to get everybody out and have a massive change again.

"We need to address the balance issues a little bit and any changes we make really need to be starting players.

"We're looking to improve at the top end in terms of quality."

Clement will not be looking to bring striker Chris Martin back to Reading following his loan spell from Derby County last season.