Aston Villa are close to agreeing a contract with Matthew Lowton, who has been rewarded with an improved long-term deal after impressing in his first season at the club. The right-back will follow in the footsteps of Brad Guzan, Ciaran Clark, Andi Weimann, Nathan Baker and Ashley Westwood, all of whom this summer have committed their future to Villa.

Lowton, who has the potential to break into the England squad, was one of Villa's most consistent performers last season, when he also scored a couple of spectacular goals, including a sublime volley in the 3-1 victory over Stoke City in April.

The 24-year-old still has three years remaining on the contract he signed last summer but Paul Lambert, the Villa manager, acknowledged that the former Sheffield United defender deserved a salary hike on the back of his displays in the Premier League.

Christian Benteke has reported back for pre-season training with Villa for the first time since submitting a transfer request. Benteke, who was granted an extended break by Lambert, trained with the rest of the first-team squad.