Bent outlines Euro vision

17 August 2010 06:43
Darren Bent has set his sights on erasing his World Cup misery by playing a major role in England's bid to reach the finals of Euro 2012.

The 26-year-old Sunderland striker missed out on a chance to showcase his talents on the biggest stage of all for the second time when he was one of the unfortunate men to make Fabio Capello's initial 30-man squad, but not the final 23 who went to South Africa.

That may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise after the Italian and his misfiring team returned home to a tide of criticism, having drastically under-performed, although Bent admits the wound is still fresh.

However, the man who fired his way into the reckoning with 25 goals during his first season on Wearside is a wiser and tougher one than the youngster whose exploits at Charlton also failed to win him a seat on the plane to Germany four years earlier, and his disappointment has already given way to a gritty determination not to be sidelined again.

Bent was forced to withdraw from the squad for last week's friendly clash with Hungary because of a back injury, but he will make it his mission to be fit and firing on all cylinders for next month's qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland after Capello indicated he has a future at international level.

The former Tottenham frontman said: "I saw him [Capello] at the last squad and when I had to pull out, he said it was unfortunate, but he told me to keep working hard and more opportunities would come, and hopefully they will.

"The disappointment four years ago was hard and for it to happen again is extra hard.

"But at the same time, I am up for the fight. There's a chance there for me again.

"I was selected for the first squad after the World Cup - it was just unfortunate about my back.

"But I know there's a qualifier coming up and if I can keep knocking them in for Sunderland again and playing well, there is no reason why I can't be in that squad."

Bent admits there was a time when he started to wonder if his chance would ever come and whether he should simply take himself out of the firing line and declare himself unavailable for his country.

But the thought soon passed and he is ready to roll up his sleeves once again.

He said: "I sat and talked to my family and all my friends. You get people with different views and there's a time when you start thinking, 'Is there a chance for me?', 'Am I ever going to get that chance?'.

"But you can't think like that, you have just got to keep working hard, keep focusing, keep believing, which is what I do, and hopefully it will come.

"That's all I can do. The moment I stop doing that, I might as well hang my boots up."

Emile Heskey's retirement from international football and Bent's recent call-up have re-opened the door, although he knows he cannot take anything for granted even with the wind of change blowing through the England set-up.

He said: "It was a difficult summer for everyone concerned, but it's still going to be tough.

"It might have been difficult, but they are all fantastic strikers, all good players, so I know I am still going to have to work hard to get into the squad, and that's all I can do.

"I can't control what they do, all I can do is control what I am doing, and as long as I do that for Sunderland, then anything is possible."

Source: Team_Talk