Fulham have completed the signing of Steve Sidwell from Aston Villa for an undisclosed fee.

The deal initially runs for six months but could see the 28-year-old former Chelsea midfielder remain at Craven Cottage until the summer of 2014.

“I’m delighted that my move to Fulham has been finalised,” said the south London-born Sidwell.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes said: “He is a player whose career I have followed for a while now.”

Hughes added: “There was a deal in place to bring him in prior to when I arrived. At that time I just didn’t think it was the moment to make it happen because I was new to the club.

“But he has been in my thoughts ever since, and when the opportunity to sign him in the January transfer window presented itself we moved quickly knowing there was a possibility he might go somewhere else.

“His intention was that he always wanted to come to Fulham – this was his first choice and we are delighted to have him on board. He is a young man who wants to get his career back on track and start playing football again. He has a good reputation in the game and is well admired.

“On the pitch he can get from box to box, he works tirelessly, is good on the ball and can also get you a goal. He wants to be part of what we are doing here – and because of that he will do well for us.”

Sidwell was on Arsenal’s books as a youngster but never played for the first team, having loan spells with Brentford and Brighton before joining Reading in 2003.

He spent four seasons with the Royals before joining Chelsea in May 2007 and then Aston Villa in July 2008, though he has played only six games for the Midlands side this season.

Sidwell was tipped to link up with his former Chelsea boss Avram Grant at West Ham’s Upton Park, with Wolves also keen, and Hughes admitted: “We moved quickly when we felt there was a possibility that we might lose Steve.

“This was his first choice. He is a young man who wants to get back on track, start playing football again.

“He has a good reputation in the game, well admired, a box-to-box player who can get you a goal. He’ll be fine for us.

“His family are based around here but it is not a lifestyle choice. He wants to be part of what we are doing here. He wants to get his career back on track.”