Aston Villa have been charged with making an illegal approach for Southampton striker James Beattie, the Premier League have confirmed.

The charge relates to comments made by Aston Villa manager David O’Leary earlier in the season.

Beattie, who scored 14 league goals last season and has five England caps, is currently unavailable due to injury.

“We felt that Aston Villa made an illegal approach for James Beattie while he was still under contract to us and without our permission,” Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe told his club’s website.

“The Premier League have set up a commission to look into this so we await their verdict with interest.”