Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar has backed Darren Bent to replace suspended Christian Benteke in their final Premier League game.
Benteke’s dismissal against Chelsea means he will miss their clash with already-relegated Wigan on Sunday, but Vlaar believes that the club can rely on Bent to lead the line in his absence.
Bent has not started for Villa since January, against Newcastle, and only seven of his 15 league appearances have not been from the substitutes bench.
However his captain has been impressed with the striker’s performances in training and is confident he can step in to replace Benteke.
“I think he (Bent) can play – that’s my opinion,” he told the Birmingham Mail. “Charles N’Zogbia can also play, but I think Darren is more of a centre-forward, but that’s the manager’s decision.
“Darren has looked very sharp in training. He’s been training very well.”
The arrival of Benteke in August has limited the number of starting opportunities for Bent under Paul Lambert and he has only scored two league goals all season.
Vlaar knows that it has been a tough time for the England international but was full of praise for Benteke for the impact he has made in his first campaign in the Premier League.
“It’s not easy for him (Bent) this season because he hasn’t played a lot but the way he’s training, that’s the Darren Bent we all want to see and he’ll probably get his chance now,” he continued.
“Christian’s been absolutely great for us all season, he’s scored a lot of goals. He’s taken a lot of pressure away from us because he’s so strong.
“We can always get the ball to him and all the defenders have their hands full with him. (It is) too bad for him (that he is suspended), too bad for us, but he also will learn from this.
“Of course he’s disappointed (about his red card). We’re all disappointed. He scored such a great goal and got sent off. I don’t think he feels too good now.”