Sunderland AFC transfer news: Ex-England man hands transfer blow to Cats, Watford, West Brom and Middlesbrough

Steven Gerrard has praised Cameron Archer following a fruitful pre-season programme with Aston Villa.

The 20-year-old frontman scored seven goals in 20 Championship appearances for Preston last season, and The Lilywhites are said to be interested in another loan deal.

Sunderland, Watford, West Brom and Middlesbrough have also been credited with an interest in Archer, yet Villa boss Gerrard was keen to have a closer look at the youngster during pre-season.

Archer returned to his parent club in May alongside with Gerrard commenting on his returning loanees during their summer with Villa. Gerrard is clear that Archer, Kesler Hayden and Tim Iroegbunam have all given him something to think about ahead of the new Premier League season.

Aston Villa's English striker Cameron Archer

“Cam showed everything that Cam’s about, movement, quality, could have a hat-trick but for a few good blocks but, again with Cam, if you don’t let me leave the room and I’d have to make a decision now, he’d be staying in the door”, Gerrard told Birmingham Live.

“Yeah, at the moment [I’d keep them], because they really stepped forward, and what they’re doing is they’re sending messages to more experienced people that there’s a fight on from now until the game against Bournemouth… and beyond because the window is still open.

“They’ve given me serious things to think about and that’s the reason I’m here.”

Aston Villa are set to take on top-flight rivals Manchester United in Perth on Saturday before their final pre-season game against Rennes in France before the new season.