Bent going nowhere – McLeish

McLeish, whose side visit Stoke on Monday night, has stressed he

has to adopt a sell-to-buy policy if he wants to bring in any new

players, and offloading a player of Bent’s quality – he cost Villa

£18million 12 months ago – would be a way of generating funds.

But McLeish says such a move would “send out the wrong message” and

in any case he knows the importance of Bent’s goalscoring abilities

to Villa. The Scot said: “A striker of Darren’s ability would be

difficult to replace. “His goals last season were a vital part of

Villa’s season in terms of keeping them up. I wouldn’t think

anybody can afford Darren. I wouldn’t think so. “It would send out

the wrong message unless we went out and signed Luis Suarez or

something. Even suspended for eight games, I’d have him.” The

former Birmingham boss knows from experience just how crucial it is

to have a proven goalscorer. He said: “I wouldn’t be tempted to

lose any of the strikers. That was something that badly affected

Birmingham City last year. “We lost Nikola Zigic after the Carling

Cup final and Obafemi Martins breaking his leg was a massive blow

to that club. People say that strikers make the difference in this

league.” McLeish added: “I’ve always said, since the start of the

season, that we have got to trade carefully. “It is very much a

kind of juggling of the balls at the moment. “That means I can’t

just go into the market without there being a kind of balance. “I’m

not willing to sell anybody at the moment, but you just don’t know

what will happen.” McLeish is aware of the challenge that faces his

side at the Britannia Stadium, and is full of praise for the job

done by Stoke counterpart Tony Pulis. He said: “It’s a challenge

for the players in terms of their mental toughness. They have to be

of the mentality to get through it. “But Stoke also play good

football. I watched them against Spurs [2-1 win on December 11] and

they played terrifically well. “They play to their strengths. They

do it well and Tony Pulis and Stoke are a great example of

stability at a club and building it over a period of time.”