By Darren Bent

18th Feb, 2020 | 2:51pm

'Nowhere near the pace' - Exclusive: Bent rips into Villa star he believes is facing axe

Darren Bent has torn into Aston Villa midfielder Danny Drinkwater and insists  manager Dean Smith must be thinking about axing him from the side.

The former Villa and England striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says the Chelsea loanee is miles off the pace at the moment and that he is letting the team down.

Since joining the VillansJanuary, the 29-year-old has started four out of five of the club’s Premier League games, despite making just one top-flight appearance for Burnley in the first half of the campaign.

Bent says that he understands why Smith is keen to get the central midfielder up to speed as soon as possible in their hunt for survival but insists he cannot persist for much longer.

“Drinkwater, he is nowhere near the pace at the minute,” Bent told Football Insider.

“This is why the managers earn some of the big bucks. I understand he wants to get Drinkwater up to speed but not at the expense of the team.

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“I like Danny, when he won the league with Leicester I thought he was absolutely brilliant. I think for him and the manager, it’s going to get to a point where the manager’s going to go: ‘Do I keep persisting with him until he gets fit or do I take him out and put someone else in there?’

“That decision is coming sooner rather than later I think.” 

Drinkwater’s played twice for Burnley during an ill-fated spell with the Clarets, his only league outing a 59-minute runout against Manchester City back in December.

He has only played more than 70 minutes once since joining Aston Villa, with Smith taking him off after an hour against Spurs on Sunday.

In other Aston Villa news, Noel Whelan believes a new signing will be fuming with his teammates.