There's no escaping the fact that this season has been a disaster for Darren Bent, who began 2012/13 as the club captain and now there is not even an eyebrow blinked if he fails to make the bench.
Manager Paul Lambert has been resolute in his sidelining of the striker, preferring Christian Benteke, and he would argue quite justifiably so.
29-year-old Bent has stated that he will consider his options this summer and seek to find a club where he can get increased playing time, but where might that be?
We've picked out five potential destinations for the striker:
West Ham United
West Ham's scattergun search for a striker has seen them try and fail with Modibo Maiga, Marouane Chamakh and Wellington Paulista inside the last year, while Andy Carroll remains an uncertainty for next season given Liverpool's asking price. Darren Bent would be a cheaper alternative who guarantees goals and would like the challenge of playing for a club competing to finish in the top 10. If the Hammers could afford both then he may just be an ideal partner for Carroll.
Bent would surely jump at the chance to sign for Swansea, who are in need of a striker after selling Danny Graham to Sunderland without replacing him. Bent would offer their attack a focal point while allowing Michu to drop into a preferred deeper role and the prospect of European football would only entice the striker to the Liberty Stadium.
Newly promoted Cardiff City reportedly have around £20 million to spend on players, and a striker with a proven Premier League goalscoring touch is essential to their plans. Bent frequently performs better at a team where he can be the main man, and he would be just that at Cardiff, which may help persuade him to sign.
Changes are needed at Stoke this summer, and these are expected to begin with a re-working of the club's attack. Peter Crouch is tipped to leave, while Michael Owen has also retired, creating spaces in the club's squad. Darren Bent could be just what they are looking for, and we expect Tony Pulis to give him strong consideration, but may have to twist the striker's arm to join the club.
On paper the prospect of signing for Hull may not be the most attractive for Darren Bent to consider, but the trump card here may just be Steve Bruce. Now the pair share a history at Sunderland, but with years passed and both manager and player needing help for next season they could put those aside for the greater good. It'd be hard to bet against Bent scoring into double figures for the Tigers.
Where do you think is Darren Bent's best option?
image: © wonker