By Graham Hill
VILLA and Derby County are facing a battle off the pitch as well as on it – as both clubs aim for a return to the Premier League.
The Midlands rivals face each other at Wembley in the Championship Play-off final.
But the result could help decide the destination of Chelsea defender Gary Cahill.
The Daily Mirror report that Villa, Derby and West Ham are interested in signing former England centre-half.
Cahill, 33, is an ex-Villa player but he would also have close ties with Stamford Bridge legend Lampard at Pride Park.
On the other hand, John Terry’s influence as Villa coach could also come into play.
The player’s £75,000 a week Chelsea contract is coming to an end after seven years with the club.
He is clearly surplus to requirements after playing just eight times this season.
Villa were linked with Cahill in January but it was Tyrone Mings who came in from Bournemouth on loan and proved to be a success as he provided a solid base for the club’s Play-off charge.
Promotion for Villa is likely to see Mings make his move a permanent one and Smith would like to combine him with the experience of Cahill who left the club 11 years ago in a £5million move to Bolton when Martin O’Neill was in charge.