Derby County have stepped up their bid for a place in the Premier League by taking Darren Bent on loan for the remainder of the season.
The Rams were last in the top-flight of English football back in 2007-08, when they won just one match and ended the campaign with only 11 points; the lowest league total since the introduction of three points for a win. They have since struggled to find their way back into the elite, although they reached the playoff final last term only to lose to Queens Park Rangers.
That defeat, though, hasn’t dampened their optimism this time round, and they are currently third in the Championship table and just three points adrift of leaders Bournemouth. And although they have one of the divisions most prolific scorers in Chris Martin, Steve McClaren has further bolstered his attacking options by taking Bent on loan from Aston Villa.
“We are delighted to welcome Darren Bent for the rest of the season,” he said. “He adds to our already excellent attacking options. Darren has scored goals wherever he has been during his career and we believe he can contribute on the field for us. We’ve got plenty of big matches coming up for everyone to look forward to – and Darren certainly brings big game experience with him.”
Bent, who won the last of his 13 England caps in November 2011, began his career at Ipswich Town before moving to Charlton Athletic in 2005, where his form earned him a then-club record £16.5million move to Tottenham Hotspur two years later. From there he move to Sunderland in 2009, before he was surprisingly sold by the Black Cats to Villa for an initial £18million in January 2011.
Despite a bright start to life in the Midlands the 30-year-old has been on the outside at the club for some time, and spent last term on loan at Fulham and, earlier this season, he scored two goals in five Championship matches for Brighton & Hove Albion. He will link up with his new team-mates on Monday, and could debut against one of his former clubs, Ipswich, next weekend.
Meanwhile, Derby have also signed Ryan Shotton from Stoke City on a permanent basis following his impressive loan spell, in which the defender has scored twice in 14 appearances. Speaking of the 26-year-old, McClaren said: “He has shown in his brief time with us that he is an important member of the squad, contributing with good performances and showing his versatility.”
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