Villa keep tabs on Bent position

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The Independent Football

Darren Bent is attracting interest from Aston Villa although Sunderland remain the favourites to sign the England international who is completely out of favour at Tottenham Hotspur.

Bent's deal to Sunderland is once again in the pipeline having collapsed over the weekend as Spurs sought to get the best possible deal for a player whom they rate at around £15m. He is regarded as one of their most saleable assets and the funds from his transfer will be used to pay for Peter Crouch who completed his deal from Portsmouth at the weekend.

Villa would be unable to compete with Sunderland on transfer fee or wages for the player and although they have Ashley Young – an asset Harry Redknapp has long prized – they do not want Bent enough to part with the winger. Having been taken off Spurs' plane to China, Bent is no longer even training with those players – Crouch, David Bentley, Ledley King and Michael Dawson – left behind while the club play in Beijing in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

Tottenham beat West Ham 1-0 yesterday in China with a goal from Jermain Defoe and a performance that suggested competition will be tough among the strikers, if not among a defence where there are so many injuries that Spurs are casting around for a quick replacement.

Redknapp said: "Defoe looked so sharp, it was only a matter of time before he took his chance, and he had a few other opportunities that he made for himself with tricky pace and movement. I was very pleased with him.

"We have good options and now we have Crouch. We are looking stronger and we need to push on, and if I can improve the squad further before the start of the season then I will."

* There was some bad news for Villa last night as their Bulgarian midfielder Stiliyan Petrov suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder during a friendly against Atlante.

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