EXCLUSIVE

Darren Bent has tipped Charlie Austin to be the answer to Aston Villa’s scoring prayers next season.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Villa and England striker urged his former club to snap up the newly available striker before the window shuts.

As revealed by Football Insider, Southampton are willing to cash in on the 29-year-old forward this summer as Ralph Hasenhuttl looks to shake up his squad with a firesale of senior players.

Villa have already signed left-back Matt Targett from the Saints and have registered their interest in adding Austin to their multiple summer signings.

“Charlie Austin is a funny one because I like him as a centre-forward. He scores goals, you can’t take that away from him – injury prone, that’s the only thing,” Bent told Football Insider.

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“If you can keep Charlie fit for the whole season, if you can keep him consistently playing for 30 games this season he will score you 15 goals. Within 10 games he’ll score five or six goals and if Aston Villa can get him, then, by all means ‘yes’.

“If he’s going to be one that plays six games, miss the next 20, play the next five games and then he misses the next 10 there’s no point, he’s not helping you.

“If they can get him and he’s fit Charlie Austin, he’s going to be one of them Tammy Abraham’s they get themselves in positions to score goals and he’ll keep doing that. There are other aspects of his game where they’re maybe not up to scratch but he’s like me as a centre forward – I don’t really care, if I’m scoring goals then people can say what they like.

“For me Charlie Austin, he’s an out-and-out centre forward but you just worry about his injury history. If you can get him and keep him fit then 100 per cent I’d go and get him.”

The former Burnley, QPR and Swindon Town forward has scored prolifically at Premier League, Championship and League One level during his career.

In other Aston Villa news, Danny Mills has tipped one of the club’s star performers to demand a £40million fee in the next year.