Steve Bruce insists he is determined to keep his improving Aston Villa squad together after being asked about Conor Hourihane speculation.

According to reports, Hourihane is being monitored by Premier League newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion.

The former Barnsley favourite has become increasingly prominent at Villa recently and has been in the unchanged starting XI for the last four Championship wins.

Hourihane has also scored five goals so far this season, with a hat-trick against Norwich City and strikes against Reading and Nottingham Forest.

Speaking after Villa's 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers lifted his team to seventh in the Championship table, just one point off the play-off places, Bruce shrugged off the Hourihane rumours, which originally surfaced in a national newspaper towards the end of the transfer window.