Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has put his players on alert to stop Sunderland's in-form striker Darren Bent in Wednesday night's Barclays Premier League encounter at Villa Park.
Following their 2-2 draw against Wolves at the weekend, Villa badly need a win to boost their hopes of finishing fourth and qualifying for next season's Champions League. But O'Neill knows that Villa's hopes of beating Sunderland could depend on them keeping Bent and strike partner Kenwyne Jones in check.
He said: "Bent has had a really terrific season and he has the goals to prove his point."
Bent took his goal tally for the season to 21 with a double against Birmingham on Saturday and O'Neill has been impressed by the form that the England international has shown at the Stadium of Light following his £10million move from Tottenham.
O'Neill added: "It was a chance he was looking for at Tottenham to be playing pretty regularly, but with their strike force it didn't appear as if that was going to be at all possible.
"He has gone to Sunderland and proved himself, while Jones, on his day, is a real handful."
A Villa win would turn up the heat on Tottenham in fourth and O'Neill added: "We would be only two points behind Tottenham if we beat Sunderland and we are desperate to try and win the game against a rejuvenated Sunderland.
"The consequences are that we could close the gap again."
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