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Darren Bent has been passed fit to start up front in Aston Villa’s opening game of the season against Fulham on Saturday.

The striker had been a doubt for the game having been ruled out of England duty with a shoulder injury but new Villa boss Alex McLeish has confirmed that Bent is fit to start the Premier League opener. Bent made a real impression in the Midlands last term after scoring nine goals in sixteen appearances following an £18m move from Sunderland in January.

Bent could be joined in the starting line-up by Emile Heskey after the former Leicester and Liverpool man has impressed McLeish during pre-season. The Sunday Mercury suggests that Heskey could start on the left side of midfield.

McLeish also confirmed that centre back James Collins is available for selection after undergoing an injection on his troublesome back injury.