Injury to Bent may force Pardew's hand

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The Independent Online

The Charlton Athletic manager Alan Pardew conceded yesterday that Darren Bent's injury has forced him to listen to offers for the England striker.

The Premiership strugglers had been expected to reject all bids for their leading goalscorer but the knee injury Bent sustained against Aston Villa recently could keep him out until mid-February and Pardew realises that it could be in the club's best interests to cash in and release funds for a spending spree.

"I have to look at his fitness every day and see whether it is improving or whether he is going to be out for a long time," Pardew said. "In our situation, that might be too much. If someone is going to go for him in this window, they will have to wait six weeks before they can play him. They might be in the position to do that but I might not be."

Wigan have signed the defender David Unsworth on a free transfer from Sheffield United.

Aston Villa hope to make a signing from Manchester United next week, with the right-back Phil Bardsley poised to join on loan in preference to Sunderland.

Birmingham are on the verge of signing the on-loan Arsenal midfielder Sebastian Larsson on a permanent basis. The Sweden Under-21 international is poised to move for an initial fee of around £500,000.

Watford have signed the Rotherham striker Will Hoskins and midfielder Lee Williamson, for a joint fee which could rise to £1m.

In Germany, the Manchester United target Owen Hargreaves has been dealt a blow in his comeback from injury. Tests have revealed that the healing process in the England midfielder's broken leg is not as advanced as predicted, and a return this month is unlikely.

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