Date: 19th August 2012 at 2:00pm
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If Aston Villa are to improve on last season’s woeful finish of 16th in the Barclays Premier League, the goal scoring of one Darren Bent will be indispensable. Undoubtedly if Bent wasn’t injured for the last three months of last season with ruptured ankle ligaments, Villa would have finished much higher than 16th and Bent would have hit the 20 goal mark.

England forward Bent is undeniably currently one of the best finishers from 18 yards in the Premiership, similar in comparison to how Manchester United legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy used to score most his goals, lurking around the opposition’s box awaiting the moment to pounce.

Before signing for Aston Villa in January 2011 for 24 million, after he handed in a transfer request at Sunderland, he scored better than a goal every two games for them, 32 in 58; previous to that he has played for Spurs, Charlton and Ipswich.

Focussing on Bent’s influence for Villa, if he stays fit he is very likely to improve on his 10 goals in 25 appearances last season. With likely support coming from new signings controlling box-to-box midfielder Karim El Ahmadi, winger Bret Holman as well as hopefully a transformation from Charles N’Zogbia and Stephen Ireland from last season, Bent will be likely to hit the 20 goal mark this season.

The problem Villa has if Bent does get injured again like last season, whom in the current playing squad is going to be able to step into his boots. When Bent got injured last season, Austria under 21 international Andreas Weimann stepped up and scored vital goals against Stoke and Fulham that kept Villa up, but no disrespect to the lad (who I’ve had the pleasure to of met) I don’t think of yet he is a 20 goal a season striker.

Villa’s other options are Gabby Agbonlahor who is currently out for 6 weeks with injury, but has failed to score in his previous 20+ Premiership matches and Nathan Delfouneso, who of yet hasn’t shown the potential to be a  regular Premiership goal scorer.

At this week’s Aston Villa fans’ forum it was suggested by new manager Paul Lambert that he wasn’t looking for a new forward until the January transfer window and instead “would deal with it if it happened” (If Bent got injured) and Villa were operating on a one in one out basis. Like most Villa fans on hearing that, the concern the squad is still low in numbers grew; in my opinion at least three new signings are still needed, a centre back, left back and a new marquee striker.

Players who have been linked with Villa in the press and on Twitter in the last few weeks have included surplus to requirements England and Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, ex Villa academy Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge and Manchester United’s Michael Owen. Out of those three players a partnership of Bent and Carroll come Upton Park Saturday afternoon would please most Villa fans including myself.

Concluding, all I can hope is Darren Bent doesn’t get injured again after the transfer window closes on 1st September and Villa aren’t left without an experienced forward to lead the line and score the goals needed to avoid another relegation battle, which no one who bleeds the claret and blue of Aston Villa Football Club wants to see.

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