Despite his club's desperate start to the new season, Villa Park boss Paul Lambert has axed Bent, 28, from his last two Premier League starting line-ups. And Merson admits he is totally baffled to see hotshot Bent become an outcast under Lambert.
Merson, who played for Villa between 1998 and 2002, told the Daily Star Sunday: "How Darren is only a sub I do not know - he's their only natural scorer. He's one of the very few natural scorers in England, let alone at Villa.
"To put him as sub in a team that do not make millions of chances in a game, I just could not believe it - and he'd scored in the previous game against Southampton.
"Bent is never going to give you a lot more than scoring goals.
"He's not going to get the ball on the halfway line and bring people into the game because that's not his style. But as a natural finisher and in a struggling team that don't make a lot of chances, Villa really need him.
"And after taking the captaincy off him as well, I'd be shocked if he was there after January."