Aston Villa could secure the “perfect deal” this summer by offering Daniel Sturridge a pay-as-you-play contract, according to Darren Bent.

The former Villa and England ace, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, says that the former Liverpool man, who is now a free agent after seeing his Reds contract expire, would be a no-brainer of a signing if it was not for his injury record.

The 29-year-old is reportedly a target for Dean Smith’s men after picking up a short ban for a breach of betting regulations, the former Chelsea striker able to return to playing in August.

Bent insists that Sturridge’s injury record, with a variety of long and short-term problems forcing him to the sidelines throughout his career, is a worry but that a pay-as-you-play deal could get the very best out of the striker.

“I think pay-as-you-play would work a lot better,” Bent told Football Insider.

“Maybe the pay-as-you-play, we’ve seen it before with players, it might just kick him into gear. He might be like: ‘I need to get myself out there, even if I’ve got a little niggle I want to play.’

“That could be the perfect deal. His ability doesn’t bother me. It’s just the injuries. When you’re talking about a guy who misses four, five months at a time, it’s difficult. That’s what Villa need to be aware of.

“He’s got bags of ability, in abundance. You don’t play for Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool if you don’t have the ability. If they can keep him fit, I’d say go all out and get him. His ability, his goalscoring prowess, I’d say yes, yes, yes. It’s just the injuries that concern me.”

The 26-cap England international made a total of 27 appearances across all competitions for Liverpool last season, only eight of those coming in the starting XI, as he scored just four goals.

He has a total of 218 Premier League outings and 77 top-flight goals under his belt, including a six-game spell at Villa’s midlands rivals West Brom.

In other Aston Villa news, it can be REVEALED that a Villa forward is on his way to the north west after the club gave the green light over his exit.