Heskey lauds new boy Bent

On a day when Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has questioned the wisdom

of selling Bent to Villa, Emile Heskey has hailed the impact made

by his fellow frontman since his arrival in January. Villa splashed

out a club record £18million on Bent, and the 27-year-old

England international has so far scored six goals in 11 Premier

League appearances. On that evidence, Heskey can see no reason why

Bent cannot become a 20-goal hero in years to come. “Obviously

Benty is always going to get goals. He’s been absolutely brilliant

since he’s joined us,” Heskey told Villa’s official club website.

“I definitely feel he can be a 20-goal-a-season man for us. He’s

showed that finishing class over the years for every club he’s

played for. “He’s been playing in the top-flight for many years and

he always shows his class and quality in front of goal. “They say

he had a bad time at Spurs, but he was still scoring goals for them

and hit 17 there in the one season. That’s a great rate of goals.

“Hopefully he can take that sort of form, and the form he’s shown

at Villa, into next season. There’s no reason why he can’t. “He’ll

be a big player for us next season.” One of Bent’s half-dozen goals

for Villa was the equaliser in a vital 2-1 win at fellow relegation

strugglers West Ham on Saturday. That result lifted boss Gerard

Houllier’s side into the top half of the table, with the club now

seven points clear of the drop zone. Heskey is convinced with the

pressure beginning to ease, Villa can enjoy a strong finish to the

campaign. “We are buzzing. It was a massive, massive win for us,”

said Heskey on the result over the Hammers. “Obviously we went down

to Upton Park knowing they were in the dogfight as well so they

were going to be at it. We knew they’d be up for it. “We went at it

with great determination and got the three points. It was massive.

It was a huge three points. “There was no hiding from it, we were

in there, but we’re slowly pulling away now. “If we keep up that

form from now until the end of the season, we can finish well.”