Former Aston Villa striker Darren Bent has criticised the club’s first-team manager Dean Smith for playing midfielder Danny Drinkwater.

The 29-year-old is currently spending a six-month loan spell with Villa from Premier League giants Chelsea, but has looked out-of-sorts in the three matches he has played so far for the Midlands side.

Bent, who has spent four seasons with the Villans from 2011 to 2015 and scored 21 goals in 61 appearances in the league, has criticised manager Smith for playing the midfielder, who according to him lacks match fitness.

“Drinkwater to me, I don’t know what you think but this is me personally, he doesn’t look fit to me, he’s not match fit yet,” said Bent while talking to the Football Insider.

“The manager, I get about playing him here and playing him there, but when you’re trying to play him all the time, it’s not doing him any favours either, he’s getting hung out to dry, people are running all over him.”

Drinkwater has had a couple of tough seasons since he moved to Chelsea from league rivals Leicester City in the summer of 2017.

Since then, the England international has only managed to represent the Blues in just 23 matches in all competitions, managing to score a solitary goal.

Villa are embroiled in a relegation dogfight this season and will need to muster all the character and determination they can to avoid dropping out of the Premier League.

The centre of midfield is an area where the supporters have called for different combinations, with plenty of options available to Smith but no clear first-choice pairing.

Drinkwater has the ability to be an attribute for Villa but looks off the pace currently, with other better options for the Villa Park club.

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