By Graham Hill
EX-VILLA striker Darren Bent says Conor Hourihane is staking his claim for a recall after losing his place in Dean Smith’s starting line-up.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder was included in the side for the first game of the new season at Tottenham.
But he then lost out to £15million Brazilian Douglas Luiz.
Bent reckons Hourigane has a point to prove after starring in the Carabao Cup tie at Crewe on Tuesday when he scored twice in a 6-1 hammering to set up an all-Premier League tie at Brighton in the next round.
But Bent says his performances last season, as Villa staged a strong finish in the Championship to win promotion via the play-offs, should have seen him stay as one of Smith’s first choice players in the top flight.
Jack Grealish and John McGinn have both kept their places in Smith’s plans – but Hourihane, who signed a new Villa deal this summer, has been edged out by Luiz.
Bent told Carabao Cup on Quest he has been impressed by Hourihane: “He was brilliant last season in the Championship and was crucial to why Villa went up,” he said.
“He’s been a bit harshly left out after the first game of the season. He probably felt he had a point to prove. He put in a really, really good performance, arguably he could have been man of the match with his two goals but what a display.”