Aston Villa have quickly moved to play down speculation that Liverpool are targeting striker Darren Bent.

The England international, who moved to Villa Park for £24 million last January, has dramatically emerged on the Reds' radar in the last week as Luis Suarez prepares for an eight-match ban.

Liverpool legend and BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson even spoke on the speculation last night, claiming he'd heard 'massive rumours' that a deal was 'already done' for the 27-year-old to move to Anfield.

However, the Villains have told talkSPORT that the player is not for sale at any price, and that no contact has been made by Kenny Dalglish or anyone connected to the Merseyside outfit.

The statement of intent appears to pour cold water over Lawrenson's claims on Radio 5 Live, although their is no denying that Liverpool are short in the striker position.

With Suarez's ban and Andy Carroll yet to find real form for the Reds following his £35 million move 12 months ago, finding the back of the net could prove to be a major problem for Liverpool in the coming months.

Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy are the only other recognised strikers with experience in the squad, and both have been used in wide areas during the most recent stages of their career.

That could lead 'King Kenny' into the market over the coming weeks, although the Liverpool boss has kept his cards close to his chest thus far in 2012.

Bent does have a track-record that's of the highest pedigree in the Barclays Premier League at least, boasting goals at Ipswich, Charlton, Spurs, Sunderland and the Villains during a decade of professional action thus far.

He's also earned 13 caps for the Three Lions, scoring four times in the process at international level.

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#Premier League
#Aston Villa
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