Aston Villa hopeful of Darren Bent return


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The Independent Football

Aston Villa are hopeful record signing Darren Bent will be back in contention for Saturday's clash at Chelsea, Press Association Sport understands.

Bent was ruled out of the past three Barclays Premier League games with a groin problem, but a scan has revealed no major damage.

The England striker is Villa's joint top scorer with five goals this season but missed the home meetings with Liverpool and Arsenal and the away trip to Stoke.

Villa are also optimistic Bent's strike partner, Emile Heskey, will be available for the January 2 home clash with Swansea after discovering his Achilles injury is less serious than first feared.

Heskey had to come off at half-time during the goalless draw at Stoke on Monday evening.

Right-back Alan Hutton will definitely be available for the trip to Stamford Bridge after serving a one-match ban for his sending-off against Arsenal.