- Premier League
Bent on course for Fulham after Newcastle end interest
Darren Bent is pinning his hopes on Fulham to resurrect his Premier League career and his World Cup hopes after Newcastle United's decision to end their interest in signing the striker, a source told ESPN.
Bent's future now rests on Fulham making an official bid of £6 million, which is expected to happen in the next couple of days, after his preferred move to the North East collapsed on Wednesday.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew wanted to link up again with the player he first managed at Charlton, but it appears the attitude of director of football Joe Kinnear has now ended all hopes Bent had of a reunion.
According to reports Bent and his agent are understood to have been far from impressed following a meeting with Kinnear, who suggested he would only offer Aston Villa £2m for the England international.
Villa are understood to be holding out for at least £6m, after reducing the £10m price tag they placed on the player who cost them £24m from Sunderland in 2011, but so far the only official offer they have received of £4m from Fulham has been rejected.
Bent's £65,000-a-week wages at Villa are also believed to have been a major stumbling block in any proposed move to St James' Park, with Newcastle prepared to offer only half of that figure.
He is currently training away from the first team squad at Villa, after being told he has no future at the club under manager Paul Lambert and his hopes of returning to the Premier League spotlight this season now rest on Fulham.
Crystal Palace have also registered a tentative interest, but Villa's asking price appears to be out of their budget. Fulham have had further discussions with Villa after their first offer was rejected and it is understood they are preparing to make a second bid.
Fulham are also in a position to come closer to Bent's wage demands and are hopeful that, with Newcastle out of the running, they will be able to reach a successful conclusion to their pursuit of the striker.
Villa chairman Randy Lerner is in no rush to allow Bent to leave on the cheap and remains relaxed about the situation, but would prefer a resolution to the impasse which would allow all parties to move on.
Bent is fully prepared to move to Fulham and has told close friends he wants the situation resolved as soon as possible. With less than three weeks to go before the start of the Premier League season, Bent feels he needs to be training flat out with a new team to give himself the best chance of starting in prime condition.
Despite spending last season in the shadows of Christian Benteke at Villa Park, Bent still harbours ambitions of forcing his way into the plans of England manager Roy Hodgson for next summer's World Cup in Brazil.