Aston Villa Vs Fulham, Sat 5 Feb 2011

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Gary McAllister believes Aston Villa's record signing Darren Bent was a bargain capture for an initial £18million in comparison to the other big-name moves during the January transfer window.

Bent has made a fine start to his Villa career with two goals in his opening three games to start living up to his price tag.

But Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister claims Bent's capture represents sound financial business after seeing Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll move for £50million and £35million respectively.

McAllister said: "Is Darren Bent a bargain at £18 million? Maybe five or six years ago you would have called us all crazy if we were banding these numbers about.


"But that is the going rate and market forces dictate the price.

"We did our business nice and early in the window and, when you see the prices and transfers at the back end of the transfer window, it looks like a good buy.

"He is proven in the Premier League, he has been in and around it a long time and he is a natural goalscorer."

McAllister played with and against some of the best finishers during his illustrious career and believes Bent has the same predatory instincts in front of goal.

He said: "You go back to Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and Gary Lineker and the guys I played with for Scotland, Ally McCoist, Mo Johnston, Brian McClair.

"I don't think you can coach that goalscoring art into someone.

"It is a natural instinct, knowing where to go and arriving at the right time.

"I saw Michael Owen's goal against Southampton in the FA Cup last weekend and would anyone else have scored that?

"It is instinct. I don't think you can coach it.

"Sometimes you think, `How did he wander into such a free space and the ball just arrives?'.

"It is a sixth sense, it is a definite skill. Darren has that."

McAllister is looking for Villa to put another unbeaten run together, after being beaten by Manchester United in midweek, ahead of the home clash with Fulham.

He said: "Every game is very difficult in the Premier League. We take nothing for granted and the preparation for this will be as intense as it was for the trip to Old Trafford.

"But it is a chance to get a little run going again. We did go five or six games without losing and we want to try to do that again."

Fulham manager Mark Hughes insisted striker Bobby Zamora can no longer expect to walk straight back into the Fulham side when he returns from his broken leg.

Zamora is on the brink of making his comeback from almost five months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery in September.

Fulham struggled badly in his absence towards the end of 2010, with an eight-match winless run ultimately seeing them sucked into the Barclays Premier League drop zone.

But they go into the trip to Villa having won six of their last nine games in all competitions and 12th in the league table.

The return of Zamora's fellow forwards Moussa Dembele and Andy Johnson from injury has revitalised the Cottagers and Hughes insists last season's talisman now has a real fight on to reclaim his place.

"He understands that the squad is evolving now and the squad is getting bigger and stronger," said Hughes, who this week added Eidur Gudjohnsen to his pool of forwards.

"Bobby knows that he needs to work hard to get back in the side but, given his desire to get back in, that shouldn't faze him at all."

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