Jol - Villa missing Bent
But Fulham boss backs Saturday's opponents to beat the drop
Last Updated: March 9, 2012 3:13pm
Darren Bent: Aston Villa striker will miss remainder of the season after ankle ligament surgery
Fulham manager Martin Jol admits Aston Villa may struggle in the absence of Darren Bent, but still believes they have enough quality to avoid relegation.
England international Bent has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing an operation to repair the ruptured ankle ligaments he suffered at Wigan in February.
And with Alex McLeish's side having won just one of their last eight matches to slide to 15th in the table, there are fears they could be sucked into the relegation scrap below.
But Jol believes Villa, who the Cottagers tackle in the Midlands on Saturday, will not be dragged any further down the rankings due to the other players at their disposal.
"They have got the same situation as a lot of other clubs where they rely on the players who can make a difference."
Martin Jol Quotes of the week
"They have got the same situation as a lot of other clubs where they rely on the players who can make a difference," he said.
"Sunderland had the same, they had Darren Bent there who scored 24 goals and made the difference. He went and then you have a little problem.
"With Aston Villa, if you miss your best players you can have a little problem too.
"I feel you have to rely on your best players and if they do the business you'll be fine, with the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stephen Ireland coming into the team and Robbie Keane when he was there.
"I think Aston Villa have a very good squad and are too good to be in any trouble."
Fulham head into the match looking for a fourth successive Premier League victory after recent triumphs against Wolves, QPR and Stoke.
That run includes a rare away victory at Loftus Road - only the Cottagers' second of the campaign - and Jol believes they can be confident of more success thanks to the addition of Pavel Pogrebnyak.
"I feel that we had confidence before last weekend's win over Wolves and go to Villa confident because we haven't lost seven games out of 13 away from home," he said.
"It's not bad but you have to win games and we had nine draws, for example, five or six away from home so we were close. But you need players who can make the first goal.
"Pavel did that against Stoke at home, he did that against QPR and he did it against Wolves and that is what you need to win games.
"Liverpool were probably the better team against Arsenal last weekend, but Arsenal have Robin van Persie.
"He scored two goals from nothing and that wins you games, so that is what we needed as well."