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Downing hails Villa pal Bent as vital for club and country

Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing says teammate Darren Bent is a vital player for club and country.

Villa's wing ace insists Bent's goals have been absolutely vital as he helped the team sky-rocket from the lower reaches to the top half of the Barclays Premier League table.

But he has also been impressed with the 26-year-old's form with the Three Lions of England - and says he's now a difficult player to leave out of the team.

He told Villa's website: "Darren has been a great signing for us.

"I think people questioned it when he went for a lot of money in January but he's proven himself. He's a natural goalscorer.

"He's certainly got us some important goals in the last six months and he's done well for England too.

"It will be quite hard to leave him out, I think, because he's a goal-a-game man and he's always in the right position to score goals and those people are priceless.

"He is a proven predator in the box but he's also a good hard worker too. He puts the chances away for Villa and it has been the same with England also.

"He has had three chances in the last three games and he has stuck every one away."

 It's kicking off again! Click here for your No1 source for Aston Villa transfer market news and gossip.

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