Bent in line to face Stoke

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Aston Villa have received a pre-Christmas boost with joint top scorer Darren Bent returning to training ahead of the Boxing Day game against Stoke.

Five-goal Bent has missed Villa's last two games, against Liverpool and Arsenal, because of a thigh injury and also upset some fans when he was spotted Christmas shopping during the latter stages of the Liverpool game, for which he apologised.

But he was back involved with his team-mates at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training complex on Thursday morning, and manager Alex McLeish said: "Darren Bent trained this morning. It looks like good news. I saw him having shots at goals with the injured leg and there was no flinching at all. It looks as if he will make it for Monday."

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