Aston Villa are expected to confirm Zat Knight as the club’s third long-term signing of the summer today, with the former England international understood to have travelled to the Midlands last night for a medical.

Martin O’Neill has been desperate to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes on Friday but his decision to sign Knight, who scored an own-goal during Fulham’s 2-1 defeat to Villa on Saturday, will come as a surprise to many.

The Villa manager has channelled much of his energy in the past few weeks into attempting to prise Curtis Davies from West Bromwich Albion, and a third and final bid to sign the 22-year-old is still very much a possibility.

Knight’s arrival will now ease the pressure on O’Neill to close that deal, the 27-year-old central defender offering further competition for places in the Villa rearguard. It is believed that Villa have agreed a fee in the region of £3m for Fulham’s captain.

O’Neill had considered making a move for Knight, who was born in Solihull and supported Villa as a child, in January but the proposed transfer broke down.

Other central defenders have been targeted since then, including the German international Per Mertesacker, but Knight’s availability prompted O’Neill to revive his interest and push for the deal to be completed this week. Knight had been at Craven Cottage since 1999, when he was signed by Kevin Keegan.