Darren Bent claims he can handle expectations

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The Independent Football

Darren Bent insists he can handle the pressure of being Aston Villa's record signing after completing his £18million move from Sunderland.

Bent has signed a four-and-a-half year contract and will make his debut in Saturday's home Barclays Premier League clash with title-chasing Manchester City.

It is the third big money move of his career after moving from Charlton to Tottenham for £16.5million and then an initial £10million from Spurs to the Black Cats.

Bent has smashed Villa's previous transfer record of £12million for James Milner (Newcastle) and Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough).

But the 26-year-old believes he is now experienced enough to deal with the expectations and demands on his shoulders.

Bent said: "When I first went to Spurs, and it happened there (moving for a big transfer fee), I was so nervous.

"It did play a massive part in my mind and it probably got me down at times. But I'm older and more wise now.

"I've played a few more seasons in the Premier League and it just comes with the territory now.

"I just have to get on with it, put it to the back of my mind and get on with it, not forget what I do, and try and perform as best as I can." Bent is also adamant he has moved Villa for "footballing reasons."

Former Sunderland and Villa striker Kevin Phillips claimed Bent's decision to quit the Black Cats "boils down to pure money."

When asked about Phillips's claims, Bent said: "Everyone has different opinions about things.

"I could could have gone to West Ham for more money when I left Charlton but chose Tottenham for footballing reasons. It is the same here with Villa."

Bent added: "People have asked why I swapped a top six club for one currently in the bottom four.

"But I believe Villa are in a false position, they have been sixth for the past three seasons, and it is a new challenge for me.

"Villa are a massive club and, as soon as I knew they were interested, I wanted to be part of it and help get them back to where they belong."

Villa manager Gerard Houllier vowed key players Ashley Young and Stewart Downing would not be sold during the January transfer window.

He said: "Ashley Young and Stewart Downing are not for sale, simple as that.

"They won't be leaving. We have had no bids for them."