Bent is backed for South Africa
PHIL BARDSLEY expects Darren Bent to put any lingering international disappointment behind him on Saturday, and the Sunderland full-back has also tipped his team-mate to be a surprise inclusion in England's squad for next summer's World Cup finals. Bent is back at Sunderland's Academy of Light training ground after failing to find the target in England's friendly defeat to Brazil last weekend. The striker's failure to break his international duck led a number of commentators to write off his chances of breaking into Fabio Capello's World Cup squad, but with the deadline for a decision still more than six months away, Bardsley insists there is time for the 25-year-old to make the frame. It was tough for Darren to play against Brazil in such hot temperatures, but he deserved his chance to play for England and hopefully he will get more, said the Black Cats defender. It would be unfair to judge him on Saturday alone. I think he will get another chance, all he needs to do is concentrate on turning in the sort of performances he has been for us. There's no reason why he can't be one of the four strikers that Fabio Capello takes to the World Cup. It's all about finding the partner for (Wayne) Rooney, that's the one. I'm sure Benty will score more goals and that will help his cause. His first chance to improve his goalscoring tally will come when Arsenal visit the Stadium of Light in two days time, and Bardsley is confident his team-mate will not suffer a hangover from a difficult two weeks. Prior to flying off for international duty, Bent missed a penalty during an eagerlyawaited return to his former home, White Hart Lane. His international blank provided his detractors with another stick with which to beat him, but Bardsley claims the strength of the striker's character will ensure confidence is not an issue on Saturday. I didn't actually see Saturday's game because I was away, he said. But I've played with Benty for the last few months and have got to know his game. If he gets chances, he will score. If he misses chances, he will just carry on doing the same. He'll always keep going and won't let his head drop. It's like when he missed the penalty against Tottenham he just keeps going and nothing fazes him. He will step up again and take the next one, that's just the type of character he is. With Kenwyne Jones once again suspended, Bent is likely to be partnered by Fraizer Campbell in an orthodox 4-4-2 formation as Sunderland look to follow last month's win over Liverpool with another home victory against a member of the Big Four'. Lorik Cana will return after suspension, and the Albania international is expected to partner Jordan Henderson at the heart of midfield. Henderson has earned rave reviews since breaking into the first team at the start of the season, and Bardsley feels the teenager possesses the same committed and positive attitude as Bent. He's another one who's a winner, he said. He has come through the Academy and has had that instilled in him from Kevin Ball. Jordan's attitude has been spot on, and he's done himself and his family proud. He's an energetic lad, who can play and get about the pitch. He shows no fear and, if he keeps showing the performances he has, he'll have a terrific career. Steve Bruce recently expressed disbelief that Henderson had not earned a maiden call-up to the England Under-21 squad, but while Bardsley also feels that international honours are just around the corner, he has warned Sunderland's latest Academy product not to feel he has already made it in the senior game. Some players think they have played ten or 15 games and cracked it, he said. That's not the case. When you've played 150 or 200 games, then maybe you're getting there. You have to have the right character to make sure you don't get dragged away to things that can take your eye off the ball. If young lads knuckle down and enjoy training, they won't go far wrong. But it's a tough league to establish yourself in. Meanwhile, Steve Bruce has claimed that Michael Turner was placed on standby for England's friendly in Qatar. Turner is still to win his maiden international cap, but after impressing Capello with his performance in Sunderland's defeat at Spurs, Bruce claims the former Hull defender was close to a call-up. I know Michael has been on standby for England in the past, and he was on standby this time too, he said. He was close.
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