Bent hoping for Wembley start
Striker Darren Bent is prepared to shatter his mum's dreams by making his first senior England start at Wembley on Tuesday. Bent has had no more loyal supporter than mother Shirley from the first days he kicked a ball around the Tooting streets where he grew up. In an ideal world, she would be in the Wembley stands next week if Bent gets the nod to face Montenegro in the Euro 2012 qualifier. Unfortunately, she is out of the country, cruising round the West Indies on a trip of a lifetime. And the 26-year-old is not prepared to wait. "Mum will be proud," said Bent. "She would be even prouder if she was in the country but she is in Barbados on a cruise. "If I do start and it goes well, I will be straight on phone to her and dad. "I know she will be devastated if she misses it but the cruise is a birthday treat so she can't really complain." Bent cannot afford to take anything for granted given a four-year international career that has yielded just seven caps. But Fabio Capello came as close as he is ever likely to offer the Sunderland marksman a place in his next starting line-up last week by claiming Bent was "one of the important players for the future". On the basis Jermain Defoe and Bobby Zamora are injured and Capello is loathe to utilise Wayne Rooney as a lone front-man, it points to Bent making that elusive first competitive start and his fourth overall following a lacklustre appearances against Uruguay, Brazil and Japan. The last of that trio, in Graz last May, effectively sealed Bent's World Cup fate. Just as in 2006, he missed out, although this time, the pain was even more acute. "At first it was hard," he said. "It hurt not to be there on the plane but it is part and parcel of life. The manager has got difficult decisions to make. "He had in his mind who he wanted to take to the World Cup and I just didn't make the grade. "It acted like a driving force to come back and be better than I was last season." As Bent scored 25 times in his debut campaign for the Black Cats, that was not going to be easy. But he has seven already, plus a long-awaited international strike, the one that wrapped up an impressive England win over Switzerland in Basle last month. "It was a weight lifted off my shoulders," he said. "My first thought was that something would go wrong, that the linesman was going to put his flag up, something like that. "When I knew for certain it was a goal it felt like I could breathe. Hopefully now there will be many more." Jack Wilshere has joined the senior squad after helping Stuart Pearce's Under-21 side record a first-leg triumph in their European Championship play-off with Romania, while Phil Jagielka has left for Everton and treatment on a hamstring injury that could sideline him for six weeks if early fears are confirmed. This morning Tottenham's Aaron Lennon also returned to his club with a sore back and was replaced by Aston Villa's Stewart Downing. Jagielka's departure means Rio Ferdinand and John Terry are likely to be paired in central defence, having both missed those wins over Bulgaria and Switzerland, which put the Three Lions top of Group G until Montenegro extended their 100% record to three matches by beating the Swiss themselves last night. For Bent, seeing Ferdinand was a chance to wind him up about the burst sewage pipe in the visitors' dressing room last weekend, that cost the United squad some pretty expensive clothes. "I've given him a bit of grief," he said. "During the game he put a forearm to my jaw, which he said was his way of getting his own back. "The smell was horrible but you've got to try something to put United off." England need both Ferdinand and Bent to be on top form given Montenegro are clearly far better than their lowly ranking suggests and would find themselves in pole position to reach the Finals in Poland and the Ukraine if they manage to avoid defeat. "They have got some good players, including Mirko Vucinic, who plays for Roma and is one of the top scorers in Serie A," said Bent. "We know it is going to be difficult but in international football the days of beating someone 10-0 are gone anyway."
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