Stephen Ireland is Aston Villa’s best player, says Darren Bent

Darren Bent urges new Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert to give Stephen Ireland the chance to thrive in a playmaker role

darren bent
Darren Bent joined Aston Villa from Sunderland in 2011 Photo: Christian Constantine

darren bent

Darren Bent has urged new Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert to start Stephen Ireland in the his preferred role behind the striker, describing the midfielder as the club’s best player.

The 25-year-old joined Villa from Manchester City after the Republic of Ireland international was deemed surplus to requirements at the Eastlands outfit.

Ireland initially struggled to make an impact at Villa, with then manager Gerard Houllier allowing the playmaker to move to Newcastle United on loan for the second half of the 2010-11 season.

But the City youth graduate returned to Villa Park when Alex McLeish took charge, and scored his first goal for the club in a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge last December before going on to win the supporters’ Player of the Year award.

And Bent wants Lambert, who replaced McLeish in May, to hand Ireland a regular starting spot in the hole behind the striker to get the best out of the Irishman.

“There’s no point playing Stevie Ireland one game and then moving him to the right and then taking him out of the team,” said Bent.

“You’ve got to play Stevie Ireland four or five games in that position and go from there.

“For me, he’s the best footballer in the squad, and if you want to see the best Stephen Ireland and get the best out of him you need to be playing him.”

Ireland spent four seasons in the City first-team before moving to Villa, with the midfielder being named the Eastlands outfit’s Player of the Season in 2009, despite big-name arrivals at the club.

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