Transfer speculation surrounding Darren Bent reignited

Stoke linked with £10m move for the Aston Villa striker

There is renewed speculation over the future of Darren Bent after the striker was substituted at half-time during Aston Villa's 2-1 defeat to Newcastle.

The England striker's removal from the action coincided with a spirited comeback by the home side, leading many to wonder what role Bent has to play at Villa Park in the future.

Last night's game was a rare start for Bent, who has begun just seven Premier League games this season after manager Paul Lambert repealed him to the subs bench and at times omitted him completely from the squad due to 'tactical reasons'.

Numerous clubs have been linked with a move for the striker, who while at times frustrates with his poor all-round play, remains a consistent goal scorer at the highest level.

The Daily Mail reports that Stoke City are ready with a bid of £10m for the 28-year-old. Fulham, Newcastle and QPR have also been linked with Bent, however the report says Aston Villa are not willing to sell to clubs in and around them in the relegation fight.

Stoke strikers Kenwyne Jones and Peter Crouch have been linked with moves to Swansea and QPR respectively, which would provide the Potters with the funds to make a bid for Bent.

Aston Villa could also be open to a sale to provide funds for new signings. Last night's defeat simply highlighted the need for fresh faces and more experience if the Villains are to avoid the drop.

Lambert confirmed after the defeat to Newcastle that funds were extremely limited as things stand.

"I'm not sure the situation [on buying players] has changed from January 1. There have been things we've tried but money dictates a lot of things," he said.

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