Bent has returned to pre-season training at Aston Villa to discover he has been completely frozen out of the first-team squad by Paul Lambert as Newcastle United look into offering the England international an escape route.
Bent has been told to move out of the first-team dressing-room at the training ground and ordered to train with a small group of outcasts alongside Stephen Ireland and Alan Hutton.
He has also been informed he will not be considered for selection for any of the club's pre-season friendlies and will not be included in any squads should he remain at Villa after the close of the summer transfer window.
It is a painful fall from grace for Bent, who moved to Villa from Sunderland in January 2011 in order to strengthen his hold on a place in the England squad but spent most of last season on the bench and has not played for the national team in almost two years.
Lambert appears desperate to get him out of the club ... but why the hatred?
The move to ostracise Bent is a risky one given nobody has been willing to match Villa's £8m valuation.
Newcastle are likely to open their bidding at just £5m.
Bent, though, has been unnerved by the doubts surrounding Alan Pardew's future, following Joe Kinnear's arrival as director of football. Bent played for Pardew at Charlton and the Newcastle manager has been the driving force behind the interest in him.
Pardew asked Kinnear to make the signing of Bent a priority when they met to discuss transfer targets almost a fortnight ago, but Kinnear has done bugger all ... and heads off on holiday on Friday.
Fulham have also expressed an interest in Bent but, like Newcastle, believe he is not worth the £8m Villa are looking for in the current circumstances.
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