Darren Bent has told Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane he should leave the club on loan this month to secure regular playing time.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Villa and England striker claimed there will be plenty” of clubs who want to sign the Republic of Ireland international.

Football Insider revealed last week Championship promotion hopefuls Swansea City are lining up a loan move for Hourihane.

It comes as Villa boss Dean Smith weighs up the possibility of letting the 29-year-old leave temporarily as his playing time has been severely limited this term.

After starting Villa’s first two Premier League games, Hourihane has started just one more game in the league.

Douglas Luiz and John McGinn are firmly established as the midfield pair in front of the defence with Ross Barkley operating behind the striker.

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With Barkley out injured, captain Jack Grealish has moved central meaning Hourihane has been limited to just two league appearances since Barkley’s arrival.

Asked by Football Insider whether it is time for the goalscoring midfielder to leave, Bent said: “He’s a really good player.

“He’s not too old, he’s fit, he can still play. But once you get to a certain age you’ve definitely got to start thinking about the bigger picture. The bigger picture is you’ve got to be playing games, unfortunately. You can’t just sit there and not play any more games.

“For me, it’s very important that he does that. Hopefully he can get out there.

“There will be plenty of takers for him because he’s a really good player. There will be several takers for him.”

Hourihane moved to Villa from Barnsley last summer and has scored 29 goals and provided 23 assists in 150 apperaances.

In other news, Football Insider can reveal a transfer has collapsed after a U-turn from an Aston Villa star.