​Aston Villa are hopeful of making a key breakthrough in their pursuit of Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone. 

The ​Express & Star report that Steve Bruce is keen to bring the 24-year-old to Villa Park on a permanent basis after a successful loan spell in the second half of the 2016-17 season. 

Johnstone is not short of offers with fellow Championship sides Leeds and Sunderland interested, but Bruce hopes that the guarantee of being Villa's number 1 goalkeeper will be enough to lure him to Villa Park. 

After joining Bruce's side on loan in January, Johnstone helped spark a fine run of form for Villa which ensured a mid-table finish after flirting with relegation at times during the campaign. In a spell between February and April, he kept seven clean sheets in eight games. 

Manchester United v Chelsea - FA Youth Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg

Johnstone came through the Manchester United youth system, but has never made a first team appearance at Old Trafford. Instead, his opportunities have come through various loan spells. 

His most successful loan spell came in League One at Preston North End in 2014-15. Despite being pipped to automatic promotion by MK Dons, Johnstone would be a key part of Preston's play off campaign. 

He started both legs of the semi final before starring in the North End's 4-0 Wembley win over Swindon. After returning to Deepdale the following season, Johnstone showed he was capable of playing at Championship level. 

For the start of the 2016-17 season, Johnstone stayed at Manchester United, but once again failed to break through into the first team. 

This led to joining Villa on loan where he impressed Bruce. United are expected to ask for £5m to make the deal a permanent and with the promise of first team football, it seems that Villa are the frontrunners for Johnstone's signature.