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Bent set for timely return to break international tournament duck

| 14.05.2012

He may have missed the second half of Aston Villa’s disappointing season with injury, but with 63 league goals, Darren Bent remains the second-highest English scorer in the Premier League in the last four seasons.

The only man he trails, Wayne Rooney, is suspended for England’s first two games at this summer’s European Championships, against France and Sweden.

And with Jermain Defoe rarely getting a look in at Spurs and the only Englishman featuring in the Premier League’s top ten scorers being Norwich’s Grant Holt, few could blame new boss Roy Hodgson for finding himself at a loose end when considering his attacking options.

Hodgson then, will be delighted to hear Bent declaring himself fit for this summer’s campaign, having seemingly recovered from ruptured ankle ligaments.

Bent is set to feature for Villa against Norwich (he’s 5/1 to score first) in order to prove his fitness on Sunday, and should he do so he’ll certainly expect to make Hodgson’s inaugural squad, to be named on Wednesday.

It’s no wonder Bent is eager to return, having already had to face two crushing rejections from international tournaments. Back in 2006, Sven Goran Eriksson controversially picked a 17-year-old Theo Walcott ahead of 18-goal Bent, while Fabio Capello also ignored the striker for the final World Cup squad in 2010 despite naming Bent on the preliminary list.

Having scored three goals in six international appearances in 2011, Bent finally proved that he could transfer his knack for finding the net to international level, and should he come through his fitness test against Norwich, he can rightly expect to start upfront against France.

Bayern Munich’s in-form Mario Gomez is the current favourite to finish at Euro 2012 top scorer at 7/1, closely followed by Robin Van Persie (10/1) and Miroslav Klose (12/1).

Bent is some way down the list alongside teammates Rooney and Defoe at 33/1, but given the former’s two-game suspension and the latter’s lack of minutes this season, the Villa man is surely England’s pick of the bunch.



Richard Anderson