READING FC boss Jaap Stam has made his first signing of the January transfer window with the capture of Aston Villa defender Tommy Elphick on loan.

The 30-year-old centre-back put pen to paper at Hogwood Park today after agreeing to move to the Royals until the end of the season.

Elphick, who has taken the squad number three, could make his Reading debut in tomorrow night's relegation six-pointer at Championship basement boys Burton Albion (7.45pm).

With skipper Paul McShane facing a lengthy lay-off with a hamstring injury, Stam is confident Elphick will help shore up his leaky defence.

“With the injuries we have at the back, we needed to bring in an extra defender and we were looking for someone who can add individual ability, quality and experience to the squad," explained Stam.

"Tommy is a player who does just that. He can play in the style we want to play and the experience he brings to the squad is also going to be very important. We are very pleased to have him here."

Elphick has made only four Championship appearances for Villa this season plus two in the Carabao Cup when he was sent off in 2-0 second-round defeat to Middlesbrough.

He joined Villa from Bournemouth for around £3m in summer 2016 and made 26 league appearances during his first campaign in the Midlands.

But Elphick has been forced to take a back seat this season after falling behind John Terry and James Chester in the pecking order.

However, he has clocked up more than 350 first-team appearances after launching his career with hometown club, Brighton, before moving to Bournemouth in 2012.

He donned the captain's armband with both Brighton and Bournemouth and is known for his leadership qualities.

He also skippered Villa after becoming former boss Roberto Di Matteo’s first signing at the club.

Royals chief executive Ron Gourlay added: “Tommy has captained every one of the three clubs he has represented, so it is clear that we have acquired not only a very committed and talented defender but a natural leader."

Technical director Brian Tevreden stated: “The market has been typically tough during this January transfer window, but I am very pleased we have been able to add a defender with such vast experience and undoubted pedigree to the first team squad.”

Elphick should settle down quickly in Berkshire having previous played alongside McShane at Brighton, Yann Kermorgant at Bournemouth and Leandro Bacuna at Aston Villa.

Meanwhile, Sunderland manager Chris Coleman is said to have pulled out of the race to sign Chris Martin from Derby County.

Royals and Black Cats are among those chasing the 29-year-old striker, with Rams willing to loan him out after landing Cameron Jerome from Norwich City.

Stam has spoken openly about his pursuit of Martin and is now hoping to tie up a deal before Wednesday’s transfer deadline.