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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Villa move Bent from No.9 to No.39

Darren Bent's exit from Aston Villa looks like it could be a step closer after the striker had his squad number switched from number nine to 39.

Darren Bent has recovered from a foot injury
Bent scored just three goals in the Premier League last season as he played a more peripheral role.

- WhoScored: Bent worth a punt

Bent, whose £18 million move from Sunderland in January 2011 helped Villa avoid relegation that season, found himself pushed out of the side last term following the hugely successful signing of Christian Benteke.

However, following Villa's release of their squad numbers for the 2013-14 season, Benteke has retained his original number 20 and it is Nicklas Helenius, a summer signing from Danish side Aalborg, who has inherited the No.9 shirt from Bent.

The 29-year-old, a transfer target for Newcastle United, tweeted to express his disappointment at the move:

Manager Paul Lambert also appeared to make his intentions known as to the future of Stephen Ireland. The midfielder has seen his No.7 shirt given to another new arrival, Dutch midfielder Leandro Bacuna, and will be Villa's No.40 for the upcoming campaign.

Villa also said as they announced the squad numbers via their official website that the No.19 shirt has been retired in tribute to former club captain Stiliyan Petrov, who was forced to retire earlier this year after receiving treatment for acute leukaemia.

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