Aston Villa are closing in on the signing of Genk striker Mbwana Samatta.

The Tanzania international has emerged as Villa’s No.1 target after their striker fitness crisis.

But he will not secure a work permit time to face Albion tomorrow.

Villa boss Dean Smith says newly arrived goalkeeper Pepe Reina is ready to face the Seagulls after his switch from Milan on loan.

It is understood Villa are close to sealing a move for Samatta for around £8.5million.

Villa are currently playing without a recognised striker after Wesley’s season-ending knee injury, Jonathan Kodjia’s illness and Keinan Davis’ hamstring problem.

Smith has also been linked with Leicester striker Islam Slimani, currently on loan at Monaco, and admitted the club may have to gamble this month.

He said: “January is even harder without recognised strikers as clubs can stick prices up a bit, it always has been a tough window and we have to take a couple of risks.

“I’m calm and confident we will get players but we have big games and, if we don’t get one in by Saturday, it’ll be the third in row without a recognised striker.

“We have to make sure we do the best we can without and hope we can get one through.

“There is a necessity there. With Wesley getting injured and Keinan being out we have to strengthen massively so we are looking for a couple.”

Samatta - who netted in Genk’s 2-1 Champions League defeat at Liverpool in November - has scored ten goals in 26 games for the Belgian side this season and has 20 goals in 56 games for Tanzania.

Reina, 37, watched Sunday’s 6-1 defeat against Manchester City. Smith said: “He has settled in fine which is what I’d expect. It was important we moved quickly and we’re very lucky to get someone so vastly experienced.

“He’s a leader. He will be a voice in the dressing room we need. We are a fairly young squad and our recruitment in summer was players with potential. These kind of players can help them fulfil potential by helping them with their experience.”

Villa are still without John McGinn after he fractured his ankle last month,