By JOHN BOSCHINI
Darren Bent's tenure at Sunderland has apparently come to a close.
The England international is on the verge of heading to Aston Villa after an 18 million pound offer has been made for the star striker. Bent turned in a written transfer request Sunday night and will travel to Aston Villa today to discuss personal terms. Both Sunderland and manager Steve Bruce have expressed their disappointment with Bent's decision but said they will not offer any opposition.
Bent, 26, has scored 32 league goals in 58 appearances after joining Sunderland from Tottenham in 2009. The bulk of Sunderland's attacking responsibilities will now fall to Ghanian striker Asamoah Gyan. Aston Villa sits 17th in EPL table, kept out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Here are some more stories to kick off your Monday morning.
CONCACAF eyeing additional World Cup slot
CONCACAF has confirmed that it will try and lobby FIFA for a fourth guaranteed World Cup berth in 2014. CONCACAF president Jack Warner said that the federation has earned the increase "due to the performances of our teams on the field and the actions of our confederations off it." For the 2010 World Cup, CONCACAF was awarded three guaranteed spots with the fourth-place finisher, Costa Rica, losing out to fifth-place CONMEBOL finisher Uruguay for the final World Cup spot. A decision is expected at a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in March.
Soto, Dixon offered contracts by Dynamo
Just a few days after nabbing Kofi Sarkodie and Will Bruin the 2011 MLS Superdraft, the Houston Dynamo is on the verge of adding two more players from its Academy. Southern Methodist senior Josue Soto and North Carolina junior Alex Dixon have been offered home-grown contracts by both the club and Major League Soccer. Soto, 22, and Dixon, 19, have both been members of the Dynamo Academy since 2007.
Asian Cup update
It was a crowded weekend of fixtures in Qatar as the knockout rounds of the 2011 Asian Cup begin to come into focus. Iran became the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory over North Korea on Saturday. Group A finished up Sunday with host Qatar dispatching Kuwait 3-0 and Uzbekistan drawing 2-2 with China. Uzbekistan finished atop Group A with seven points while Qatar advances with six. Group B concluded play today with Japan and Jordan advancing thanks to victories over Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Ribery out two weeks with knee injury
Bayern Munich will be without Franck Ribery for at least two weeks after the French winger injured his knee during a 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg on Saturday. Ribery, 27, injured his left knee after a challenge by Josue in the first half. The injury comes just a few weeks after Ribery returned from a long absence due to an ankle injury.
What do you think of today's stories? Can Bent help turn Aston Villa's season around? Does CONCACAF deserve a fourth World Cup slot? Interested in the Asian Cup?
Share your thoughts below.