• Joe Bennett in Brighton switch

    As widely expected Joe Bennett joined the Albion today in a season-long loan deal from Aston Villa, as the Seagulls quickly moved to strengthen at the back after Stephen Ward opted for a move to Burnley last week.

    Following Wayne Bridge and Stephen Ward himself, Bennett is the third consecutive long-term loanee on the left-isde of Albion's defence and Seagulls fans will be hoping Bennett enjoys the same success as his predecessors.

    Bennett has fallen out of favour at Villa Park with the arrival of Aly Cissokho from Valencia who seems to have made the left-side of Villa’s defence his own.

    Joining from Middlesbrough two years ago for a fee reported to be £2.75m, Bennett made an immediate impression and was a regular feature in Paul Lambert’sfirst season in the Midlands. In the last campaign he was restricted to seven appearances, and he has yet to score in his time with Villa.

    Both QPR and Wolves are believed to have been monitoring Bennett this Summer, but the Albion have secured the services of the 24-year old, who has two years remaining at Villa, for the remainder of this season.

    Bennett will take the number 30 shirt and goes straight into the Sami Hyypia’s squad for Saturday’s visit of Bolton Wanderers, and his arrival may signify more outings in the U-21s for Adam Chicksen who put in a bright performance in Tuesday’s impressive 2-0 victory at Elland Road. Bennett himself watched the game, and is sure to be impressed with what he saw.

    Villa fans have a mixed view of Bennett. Some show little surprise that he is being shipped out, pointing to a red card earned for fouls on namesake and ex-Albion player Elliott Bennett as a turning point for him and a loss of confidence. Others are more positive about his potential, expressing a belief that a run of games in the Championship can get him back on track again.

    On hearing the news of the move, occasional NSCer 'villain' wrote: "Bennett has had a hard time with us. He is not great defensively but gets forward very well and has a decent cross on him.

    "It is worth remembering that he was mostly playing in a truly hopeless defence, frequently with Baker and Clark (two of the worst centre halves I have seen in 45 years watching the Villa).

    Also worth noting that when he wasn't injured, even Ron Vlaar looked iffy playing in that defence.

    I wouldn't want Bennett starting here, but it is worth noting he is miles better than the dreadful left back Lambert bought last year (Luna).

    I actually think there is a decent player somewhere in Bennett, it just needs to be coaxed out. He strikes me as very much a confidence player, too, so a loan to a championship club is a decent idea.

    Basically, he'll be fine for you, he'll definitely do a job for you."

    Being a non-goalscoring defender, there’s precious little out there in terms of video highlights, so instead watch a West Brom fan miss Bennett with one of the worst snowball throws ever.

    Related articles:

    Albion close to left-back at last
    Albion linked with Joe Bennett
    Who's left at left-back for Albion?
    Stephen Ward deal scuppered at the last

    Key discussion:

    New LB tomorrow from Premier League club
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