Thursday media watch [15.08.13 AM]: Bent future in focus
Sky Sports: Aston Villa forward Darren Bent is having a medical at Fulham, according to Sky Sources. The 29-year-old was reportedly the subject of a £4m bid from the Cottagers in July, which was rejected by Villa, but they are believed to have made an improved offer of around £5m. Bent was a peripheral figure for Aston Villa last season, often left on the sidelines with Christian Benteke making his mark on Paul Lambert's side. And with new attacking options now available to Lambert, it would seem the club has opted to finally offload the striker they bought in January 2011 for around £24 from Sunderland. It will also be great news for Fulham boss Martin Jol who has been desperate to land a goal scorer to take some of the pressure off last season's leading man Dimitar Berbatov.
The Sun: Crystal Palace want Darren Bent on loan in time to face his old club Tottenham on Sunday. Boss Ian Holloway is to offer the Aston Villa striker, 29, a home for the season after Newcastle and Fulham failed to meet the asking price. Palace have also swooped to sign ex-Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Alexander, 35, on a free.
Daily Express: Crystal Palace are working around the clock to have Darren Bent on board in time to face his old club Tottenham on Sunday. The Eagles have jumped to the front of the queue for the striker - and are eyeing a season-long loan deal with a view to a permanent move if they stay up. However, they will have to pay a loan fee and all of his £65,000-a-week wages.
Sunderland Echo: Former Sunderland striker Darren Bent has not given up hope of securing a move to Newcastle. The chances of Bent joining the Magpies had seemingly receded over the past fortnight, with the club unwilling to go anywhere near Aston Villa's £6million valuation. Bent's reported £75,000-a-week pay packet is also a problem for a club which operates a strict wage policy. But the 29-year-old - who is also wanted by Fulham and Crystal Palace - is still understood to be hopeful he can be reunited with Alan Pardew, who worked with him earlier in his career at Charlton. Newcastle's director of football, Joe Kinnear, is under increasing pressure to deliver two more signings in this summer's transfer window.
Northern Echo: Newcastle United face more competition to sign Darren Bent with Crystal Palace the latest Premier League outfit to show an interest in ending the striker's Aston Villa nightmare. Palace manager Ian Holloway is preparing his squad for their first season back in the top flight in almost ten years and has identified Bent as someone he feels could help maintain their Premier League status for another year.The England international has been linked with host of clubs ever since he fell out of favour with Villa boss Paul Lambert, who has banished Bent to train with the youth team until he seals a move away from Villa Park.
Birmingham Mail: Fabian Delph believes summer recruit Aleksandar Tonev has the creative talent to bring "something special" to Villa's Premier League campaign. Villa launch their season on Saturday with the latest instalment of one of the most historic fixtures in the English game. Their visit to Arsenal will be the 187th time the clubs have met in senior football. But midfielder Delph reckons it will be a force brand new to the English scene which will make a few headlines in the coming months. Bulgarian winger Tonev has arrived from Polish club Lech Poznan on a mission to rattle Premier League defenders - a mission for which his team-mate insists he is well-equipped.
Birmingham Mail: Yacouba Sylla is undaunted by Aston Villa's triple header against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool - even though he was playing in front of less than 5,000 fans a year ago. A 60,000-plus attendance is expected at the Emirates on Saturday when Paul Lambert's claret and blues kick off their Premier League campaign against the Gunners. It will be a significantly bigger crowd than the 4,754 fans who watched Sylla's first game of last season, Clermont Foot's 1-1 draw with Niort in the French Ligue 2. But the 23-year-old midfielder insists he is inspired rather than inhibited by the big-time, box office appeal of playing in England's top flight with Villa.
Sky Sports: Scotland defender Alan Hutton concedes his future lies away from Aston Villa but has yet to hear of any offers. The 28-year-old lost his place at Villa Park to Matthew Lowton last season and was sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest and Real Mallorca. With first-team opportunities set to be limited at the Midlands club again this campaign the former Rangers man is resigned to moving elsewhere. Hutton played the full 90 minutes for Scotland in their 3-2 friendly loss to England at Wembley on Wednesday and speaking after that game he revealed he was hopeful of sealing a move before the transfer window shuts.
Metro: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is facing something of an injury crisis with the new season just 48 hours away. Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna both remain doubts ahead of the Gunners Premier League opener against Aston Villa at the Emirates on Saturday. Walcott limped out of England's 3-2 Wembley victory over Scotland last night after taking a knock to the knee while Sagna was forced off during France's goalless draw in Belgium. Walcott, who scored in England's win over the Auld Enemy, was keen to play down his injury last night and is confident he'll be ready for the new campaign.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Rickie Lambert said it was a "dream come true" after scoring England's winning goal against Scotland with his first touch in international football. The Southampton striker, 31, sealed a 3-2 friendly victory at Wembley for Roy Hodgson's men with a powerful header.
Sky Sports: Tom Huddlestone says Hull City manager Steve Bruce was the key to persuading him to move from Tottenham to the KC Stadium. The 26-year-old England international midfielder has signed a three-year contract with the Tigers after falling down the pecking order at White Hart Lane.
BBC Sport: Hungary international midfielder Zoltan Gera has re-joined West Bromwich Albion on a one-year contract. The 34-year-old was released by the Baggies in June after an anterior cruciate ligament problem had kept him out of action since January.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.