England’s prospects of justifying odds of 6/4 against World Cup finalists Holland have been damaged by the news that Darren Bent will miss Wednesday’s Wembley friendly after being stretchered off in Aston Villa’s 0-0 draw at Wigan.
And Alex McLeish fears the worst following his top scorer’s second-half withdrawal, noting that he is “certainly out of the England squad” and adding that “going by his reaction, it seems serious”.
It is a severe blow to a Villa side sixth from bottom in the Premier League – albeit still considerable outsiders for the drop at 12/1 – especially as it occurred on the day of loan star Robbie Keane’s final appearance before returning to the MLS.
Bent left the ground wearing a protective boot, and though early speculation that it will prove a season-ending setback has quietened slightly, it will panic demoralised supporters of a team who have won just one of their last eight.
For England, it might not be a long-term concern given the expectation that Harry Redknapp, who he didn’t get on too well with at Tottenham, will be in charge for Euro 2012, however it isn’t ideal for the upcoming test against Holland.
While Wayne Rooney is likely to play some part, Stuart Pearce will also be looking to identify possible replacements for the Manchester United striker for the first two matches this summer, for which he is suspended.
Bent was the most internationally experienced of the alternatives, with the other trio of forwards in the squad – Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Fraizer Campbell – boasting a combined four caps.
The other big news is that Steven Gerrard, widely fancied to succeed John Terry as Three Lions captain, has hinted that he may retire from England duty after Euro 2012 to prolong his Liverpool career, potentially boosting Scott Parker’s claims.