Tim Sherwood keeping tight-lipped over Darren Bent's Aston Villa future

The striker's contract is up in the summer but he won't be returning to the club to train during the final weeks of the season.

Speaking to the Birmingham Mail on Aston Villa’s various loanees, manager Tim Sherwood has offered few clues regarding the future of Darren Bent.

The 31-year-old striker’s loan spell at Derby County is over after the Championship side’s play-off hopes were ended at the weekend, and it now remains to be seen whether there will be another chapter to his claret and blue career.

His contract is set to expire this summer but, having hit 12 goals in 16 games during his four-month stint with the Rams, there have been suggestions that the ex-Tottenham Hotspur man could be in line for a shock Villa Park return.

Initial discussions are said to have taken place between Bent and Sherwood, who worked together for a brief period at Spurs before the former moved to Sunderland, and further talks are planned ahead of his deal running out.

However, the England international won’t be going back to train at Villa with fellow loanees Gary Gardner, Callum Robinson and Joe Bennett in the meantime, with the new boss already more than familiar with his qualities.

“[Some of them] will come back before the end of the season,” said Sherwood. “I know all about Darren so he’ll go on holiday [now].

I don’t need him back as I can’t play him anyway. 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.”

Having been frozen out of the first-team under former manager Paul Lambert, Bent’s Villa career looked to be all but over just a few months ago, but the club’s record signing has since suggested that he would be open to reuniting with Sherwood back in the Premier League.

Speaking to TalkSport last month, he said: “I wouldn’t rule anything out. I will have to wait until the end of the season to make that decision.

“It will be nice to have the option. But I don’t want to look too far ahead because I'm enjoying playing for Derby County and I don’t want to take my eye off the ball.”

All doors seem to be open at this point but, having failed to produce in the top-flight for a couple of seasons now, it's debatable whether Bent could reproduce the form he showcased during his first 18 months at the club if a new deal materialises.

Regardless, though, he would have to accept a significant cut to his reported £70,000-per-week wages.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch