By Darren Bent

19th Feb, 2020 | 12:41pm

'Beautiful' - Darren Bent in awe of 'Brilliant' Smith signing at Villa, touts future transfer

Darren Bent has been left head over heels for Aston Villa goalkeeper Pepe Reina since filling the void left by Tom Heaton.

The former Villa and England striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the Spanish veteran has lived up to expectations after joining on loan from AC Milan.

With Heaton ruled out until the end of the season, Reina has played the last four Premier League games under Dean Smith, with one win, a draw and two defeats under his belt so far.

Despite results not going the way of the 37-year-old and his teammates, Bent insists the former Liverpool man has been a superb acquisition for the Villans and has touted a future transfer.

“He’s a top goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, when Aston Villa got him I thought: ‘What a bit of business that is,'” Bent told Football Insider.

“Well done Dean Smith going out there and getting a goalkeeper of that ilk. His distribution is beautiful, off the deck he’s a good shot-stopper – obviously he hates me because I blasted one past him via the beachball.

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“He’s been a brilliant goalkeeper, a brilliant acquisition and if Aston Villa stay up, it wouldn’t surprise me if they try keep hold of him.”

Reina struggled for game time at AC Milan before returning to England, playing just once in the first half of the season as he played backup to Gianluigi Donnarumma.

He now has 289 Premier League appearances under his belt, having played 394 times for Liverpool across all competitions.

In other Aston Villa news, Kevin Phillips has defended one senior star coming under “harsh” criticism.