Stoke front the queue for wantaway Villa striker

Aston Villa striker Darren Bent

Stoke are leading eight Premier League clubs in the chase for Aston Villa striker Darren Bent, the Daily Mail reports.

The 28-year-old has found life tough under Paul Lambert and much of the season has been spent playing second fiddle to Christian Benteke, making just seven Premier League starts in the process.

However, he could be offered an escape route from his Villa Park hell with Tony Pulis preparing to step in and meet the £10million asking price currently on his head.

Lambert is keen to offload Bent, with eight top-flight clubs closely watching his situation, but is reluctant to let him join a rival near the bottom of the table.

The Potters don’t fall into that category and Pulis is now ready to step up his pursuit of the former England international after it emerged that Peter Crouch could leave the Britannia Stadium for QPR.

His £75,000-a-week wage demands would be well out of Stoke’s current financial remit and much will rest on whether Harry Redknapp can tempt Crouch into joining him at Loftus Road.

Villa are willing to take a significant financial hit on Bent, who cost them £18m when he joined from Sunderland two-years ago, just to get him off the books.

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