Derby County have signed striker Darren Bent on a permanent basis after an impressive loan spell at the iPro Stadium last season.

Derby County have signed striker Darren Bent on a permanent basis after an impressive loan spell at the iPro Stadium last season.

The 31-year-old has penned a two-year deal, with the option of a further year, ahead of the expiry of his contract at Premier League Aston Villa at the end of June.

Bent spent the second half of the 2014/15 campaign with Derby on loan from the Villa Park outfit and he quickly established himself as a key player.

He scored 12 goals in just 17 appearances in a Rams shirt – of which 13 were starts - and scored a number of crucial goals, particularly in the absence of leading marksmen Chris Martin due to a hamstring injury.

Head Coach Paul Clement said: “Darren Bent is a proven goalscorer and that was something he proved during his loan spell with the club last season.

“He is going to be key in our plans to move forward.”

London-born Bent progressed through the youth ranks at Ipswich Town and, after signing professional terms, he scored 55 goals in 141 appearances for the Tractor Boys between 2001 and 2005.

As well as producing a number of eye-catching performances for his club side, Bent starred at England youth international level and broke in the Three Lions’ Under 21 set-up.

His impressive form for Ipswich prompted Charlton Athletic, then in the Premier League, to pay an initial £2.5 Million for his services in June 2005 and, after rattling home an impressive 37 goals in 79 games, he moved across London in 2007 to join Tottenham Hotspur for a then club record £16.5 Million fee.

During his time at White Hart Lane, Bent made 43 starts and a further 36 appearances off the bench, scoring 25 goals for the club in the process. His first goal for the club came in a 4-0 win over Derby in August 2007.

His next stop was Sunderland in July 2009, who paid £10 Million to secure his signature. His form for the Black Cats proved to be outstanding, as he hit the net 36 times in just 63 appearances before he departed for Aston Villa in a deal that could, potentially, increase to £24 Million.

At Villa Park, he has scored 25 times in 72 appearances, although his first-team opportunities proved to be limited after the arrival of Paul Lambert in the summer of 2012.

He spent the entire 2013/14 season on loan at Fulham and scored six times in 30 appearances, while he scored twice in five outings during a brief loan spell at Derby’s Championship rivals Brighton & Hove Albion during November and December 2014.

Bent was capped at a number of youth international levels for England before making his full international bow in March 2006, against Uruguay.

His first international goal came in a 3-1 European Championships Qualifier against Switzerland in September 2010 under Fabio Capello. He scored further goals against Denmark, Wales and Montenegro before making his last international appearance in November 2011 against Sweden.

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