This past weekend saw the Football League season draw to a close, and with this, Aston Villa's players who were out on loan in the Football League have returned. With just one notable omission.
Whilst Gary Gardner, Joe Bennett and Callum Robinson are making their return to Villa's Bodymoor Heath training ground following loan spells in the Championship and League 1, Darren Bent has been told by Tim Sherwood that his presence isn't needed for the remainder of the season. Sherwood said:
"I don’t need him back, I can’t play him any way."
Sherwood is clearly referring to the fact that due to Squad Registration rules , Darren Bent would not be eligible to feature for Villa for the remainder of the season. Whilst this is true, neither Bennett or Gardner are eligible to play either, yet they return. It is worth noting that Callum Robinson is in fact eligible to play, as he was born after January 1st 1995. Sherwood however has suggested that the reason the players are making an early return is so that he can take a closer look at them before pre-season. He said:
"These other boys I need to find out about, I need to assess them at close hands."
"I don’t need to know anything about Darren Bent."
Of course, whilst this makes sense, it fuels the rumours that Darren Bent is on his way out this summer. However, there have also been reports that Bent actually wants to stay at Villa, so whether or not he actually stays is anyone's guess at present. His future seemingly hinges on the reported £70k a week that he earns at the club, but seeing how unlikely it is that any other club will match that, he could potentially stay on with a reduced wage. Alternatively, he could end up on a pay as you play type contract, similar to that of Michael Owen during his spell at Stoke City.
Personally, I'm more excited at what this means for Joe Bennett and Gary Gardner. Both seem like the types of players that would thrive in a Tim Sherwood team, and Gary Gardner has surely earned himself an opportunity after impressing on loan at Nottingham Forest. As for Bennett, whilst he struggled at the club under Paul Lambert, he plays as a left back, possibly Villa's weakest position, so there's definitely an opportunity for him if he can impress Tim Sherwood in the coming weeks.