Darren Bent could be left in limbo during the summer, after Paul Lambert revealed the striker will not be invited back into his Aston Villa plans.
The 30-year-old has been at Villa Park since January 2011, when Gerard Houllier brought him in from Sunderland in a deal which was designed to cost as much as £24million. Despite a good start – he scored nine goals in 16 matches in his debut campaign – he has struggled for form in recent times, and has been completely frozen out by Lambert.
The Villa boss played him in just 16 Premier League matches last season, and this term he has loaned him out to Fulham for the entire campaign. Bent still has another year left on his contact in the Midlands, but Lambert has confirmed that the striker, who has scored four goals in 13 appearances for England, doesn’t feature in his plans.
“No, the club’s moved on,” said the Scottish coach when asked if the 30-year-old could be back in the Villa squad next season. “Darren has not really played for me for two years. Obviously he’s been on loan at Fulham, here we’ve had Christian Benteke’s form and that’s football. Whatever happens at the end of the season will happen.”
Bent, who was so prolific during his time at Sunderland and previously impressed for Tottenham Hotspur, Charlton Athletic and Ipswich Town, now faces an anxious wait to see who will show interest in his signature during the summer. It is unlikely Fulham, who are currently staring relegation in the face, will sign him, as he has struggled for form with just three league goals in 22 appearances to his name thus far.
Villa, meanwhile, have been dealt a huge blow with news that Benteke requires surgery after rupturing his Achilles tendon. This is expected to keep the young striker out for at least six months, meaning he will also miss Belgium’s World Cup campaign.