By Darren Bent

19th Feb, 2020 | 8:00am

Exclusive: Darren Bent gutted after 'Devastating' Aston Villa player update - 'Bitter blow'

Darren Bent admits it is “devastating” to hear Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton deliver an update on his lengthy injury layoff.

The former Villa and England striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, insists that the 33-year-old would be competing for a place as England’s first-choice shot-stopper for this summer’s Euros if he was fit.

Speaking on Match of the Day 2, Heaton admitted he “thinks it’s going to be a longer” layoff than first expected and that he is still coming to terms with the setback on a mental level.

With all hope of a return to fitness late this season gone, Bent admits he is gutted for the Villa man after what had been an impressive season between the sticks.

“It’s devastating for him because I’m telling you now, Heaton would be in the mix for England number one if he was fully fit,” Bent told Football Insider.

“For him himself it’s a bitter blow. I hope he comes back quickly, I hate seeing players injured but I hate seeing players injured especially someone of his quality. He was looking like he’s be competing with Pickford and Pope and Henderson. 

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“That there is unfortunate for him but he’s got to keep fighting, working hard and get yourself fit.” 

Heaton, who arrived at Villa from Burnley last summer, has played 20 times for the midlands outfit, while he also has three England caps under his belt.

He has been replaced by former Liverpool man Pepe Reina in goal, the Spaniard joining on loan from AC Milan until the end of the season.

In other Aston Villa news, Kevin Phillips admits he has been left baffled by Dean Smith’s treatment of one player.