Bent - Ireland's the man

Aston Villa striker tells new manager to put faith in midfielder

Stephen Ireland: Darren Bent tells new manager to use midfielder in 'the hole'

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Darren Bent thinks Stephen Ireland is the key to Aston Villa's success this season, and has implored Paul Lambert to play the midfielder in 'the hole'.

The man Villa signed from Manchester City for £8million two years ago won Villa's Player of the Season award, despite being deployed on the wing by former boss Alex McLeish.

But Bent believes Ireland has more to offer the side from his preferred position.

He said: "As a striker you want somebody like Stevie picking out your runs and playing passes to give you more chances.

Hole

"The best way to do that is to play him in the hole.

"There's no point playing Stevie Ireland one game, then moving him to the right and then taking him out of the team.

"You've got to play Stevie Ireland four or five games in that position and go from there.

"For me, he's the best footballer in the squad, and if you want to see the best Stephen Ireland and get the best out of him you need to be playing him.

"Confidence can make a massive difference to any player, and when he is feeling good about himself the performances will follow."