• Premier League

Villa boosted by Bent return

ESPN staff
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Aston Villa have been boosted by Darren Bent's recovery from a foot injury - and the striker could be involved when they play Liverpool at Villa Park on Sunday.

Bent, 29, has been out since February after suffering the injury in training, and his recovery has also been hampered by flu.

But manager Paul Lambert said the forward, who has struggled for first team opportunities this season thanks to the form of Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann, was back to fitness.

"Benty is back training," he said. "He had a little flu bug there for the last few days, but I think he is okay."

The manager urged his young defenders to play with "common sense" as they face the challenge of stopping Liverpool's man of the season Luis Suarez.

Villa have climbed out of the relegation zone thanks to consecutive wins over basement rivals Reading and Queens Park Rangers, but have been plagued by individual defensive errors this season.

Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker and Joe Bennett have all been punished for mistakes in the last three games - and the consequences of any such charity with Suarez around are obvious.

"It's very rare you can take a risk," Lambert said. "Just play common sense and safety first. Don't take a chance.

"Because they are young they may try things but, if you make a mistake, you always learn from it. Play with your head.

"Suarez is a great footballer and must be in the running, with Robin van Persie and Gareth Bale, for the awards. He's a top player, outstanding.

"You have to be aware of him and the way he plays, but the lads know what they are up against with him."

Lambert, meanwhile, gave an upbeat update on his good friend and former Celtic team-mate Stiliyan Petrov a year after the Bulgarian was diagnosed with leukaemia.

"He is doing great," he said. "He has been a big, big loss to us. I can't imagine what he has been through with this."

The manager indicated that Petrov could be in line for a future coaching role at Villa, saying: "He would like to work with the young kids. I don't think he would like the stress of being a manager.

"He would be great on advice and experience, but the main thing for him is to recover fully from a horrible illness. Once the time comes, we will speak to him."

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