Stadium of Light
Barclays Premier League
The Sun: Alex McLeish wants Darren Bent to play the role of pantomime villain when he faces the Sunderland hate mob today. Aston Villa boss McLeish joked he will wrap Bent in cotton wool if he does not fancy playing. But he insists the £24m hitman is tough enough to take whatever is thrown at him as he prepares to return to the Stadium of Light for the first time since his January move to the Villans.
Mirror: Alex McLeish says Darren Bent must take flak "on the chin" on his return to Sunderland, having received plenty of grief himself over his cross-Birmingham switch. The Aston Villa boss McLeish got it from both sets of fans in the Second City back in June when he left Blues and took over at their neighbours and arch-rivals. But it is Villa and England striker Bent who will be in the firing line on Saturday when he returns to the Stadium of Light for the first time since his controversial January move to Villa.
Birmingham Mail: Alex McLeish has revealed how he missed out on signing Sunderland star and Birmingham City old-boy Seb Larsson for Aston Villa in the summer. Larsson has arguably been the most successful of Steve Bruce's nine new faces after joining the Black Cats on a free transfer. Sunderland swooped to land the Swedish midfielder in mid June, just days after McLeish was appointed Villa manager.
Independent: Sunderland manager Steve Bruce expects Darren Bent to face a hot reception from the home fans when he makes his first return to the Stadium of Light with Aston Villa today.
Daily Express: Alex McLeish claims Darren Bent will brush aside the rough reception he will get at Sunderland today like dandruff off his shoulder.
Daily Star: Alex McLeish wants Darren Bent to be the pantomime villain at the Stadium of Light today and remind Sunderland just what they are missing. Bent is primed for a hostile return to the club he quit last January in an £18m switch to Aston Villa which angered Black Cats fans.
Daily Star: Steve Bruce has said that Sunderland have finally buried the ghost of Darren Bent. But the Black Cats chief, speaking ahead of his former striker's return to the Stadium of Light with Aston Villa, admitted it had taken the club 10 months to recover from his shock departure.
Teamtalk: Alex McLeish believes Aston Villa striker Darren Bent will be unfazed by the hostile reception expected on his first return to Sunderland.
Daily Mail: Alex McLeish believes Darren Bent will be unfazed by the hostile reception expected on his first return to Sunderland.
Sky Sports: Alex McLeish is backing Darren Bent to take the frosty reception that awaits him at Sunderland in his stride and 'hurt' his former employers.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.