Aston Villa manager Dean Smith and assistant John Terry

Darren Bent has torn into the performances of Aston Villa midfielder Danny Drinkwater and blames Dean Smith for throwing him in at the deep end.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Villa and England striker says that the Chelsea loanee does not look anywhere near match fit after a difficult first half of the season.

Drinkwater, who is at Villa until the end of the season, made his third appearance for the club on Tuesday night, playing 56 minutes in the 2-1 win over fellow relegation battlers Watford.

Danny Drinkwater plays for Aston Villa

Bent says that the 29-year-old clearly needs to build up his match sharpness after so little game time but says it should be coming from the bench rather than in the starting XI.

“Drinkwater to me, I don’t know what you think but this is me personally, he doesn’t look fit to me, he’s not match fit yet,” Bent told Football Insider.

“The manager, I get about playing him here and playing him there, but when you’re trying to play him all the time, it’s not doing him any favours either, he’s getting hung out to dry, people are running all over him.”

Drinkwater played just twice while on loan at Burnley but has been thrown straight into the starting XI for Aston Villa’s last three games, coming off as a substitute in all of them.

He has a total of 23 games under his belt for parent club Chelsea.

In other Aston Villa news, Kevin Phillips says one Villa star’s admission are the “last words I want to hear”.