Belfast Telegraph

Players must be flexible - Bent

Record signing Darren Bent insists Aston Villa's players have to adapt to the formation and tactics under-fire manager Gerard Houllier wants to employ.

Houllier has opted to use Bent as the only out-and-out striker in recent weeks with Ashley Young playing behind him in either a 4-5-1 or a 4-4-1-1 system. And the England striker did not have a single clear-cut chance during Saturday's 1-0 home reversal against Wolves while being well policed by Richard Stearman and Christophe Berra.

But Bent knows the Villa players have to come to terms with Houllier's ideas and philosophies, and said: "It was difficult against Wolves, especially against those two (Berra and Stearman) as centre-halves. But, at the same time, the manager wants the system and, as professionals and players we've got to respect that."

He added: "If he wants to play one up front, then that's fair enough.

"As you said, the fans wanted to see 4-4-2 but this 4-5-1 seems like quite a common formation now. We have to try to make the system work.

"It's always difficult when you're the only striker trying to compete in the air against two centre halves but the main thing is the manager is not going to change it.

"He wants us to play this way and we've got to get on with it and adapt to it."

Bent, currently preparing for England's Euro qualifier against Wales on Saturday, added: "It's so tight down there at the bottom of the league.

"It's probably the tightest that it has ever been. Any number of nine or 10 teams could go down this season.

"But we're still fighting, we're still working as hard as we possibly can and I'm sure we'll get out of it."

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