Bent targets place in World Cup squad
HE might have slipped down the international pecking order in the last two seasons, but Darren Bent is confident his summer move to Sunderland will catapult him back into the England team. Bent will be watching on television as England attempt to beat Croatia tonight, two years after he made his final competitive international appearance against the same opponents on the ill-fated evening that ended the national sides involvement in Euro 2008. The 25-year-olds only appearance under Fabio Capello came as a second-half substitute in last years 2-1 friendly win in Germany, and both Jermain Defoe and Carlton Cole have subsequently leapfrogged him to claim a regular place in the Italians squad. Bent accepts he is an outsider for a spot in the squad for next summers finals, but the Sunderland striker is refusing to give up hope of securing a recall. I definitely feel I have something to add, said Bent, whose four international appearances to date amount to just 148 minutes of football. The moment I stop thinking that, I might as well stop playing football because the ambition will be gone. Its still a massive ambition, but at the same time I know its going to be difficult to get back in. He (Capello) seems to have his four or five strikers set, but if I can score a lot of goals, that should help me upset the system a bit. If thats the case, theres no saying where I can go. Im always confident that I can a score a lot of goals. Ive started off this season with a couple already, and if I can score a few more times, that can only be a big boost to my international ambitions. My number one goal is to hold down a place in the Sunderland team and do well for them. If I do that, the England honours will come. Having broken Sunderlands transfer record when he completed a £10m summer move from Tottenham, it did not take Bent long to impress Capello at first hand. The England manager made his first visit to the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderlands opening home game with Chelsea, and while the Black Cats eventually slipped to a 3-1 defeat, Bent gave the home side the lead. The striker is now determined to ensure the Italian is a regular visitor to Wearside over the course of the current campaign. Its similar to when I was at Charlton, he said. Whenever the England manager came down there it was a big occasion for the English players in the team. When we played against Chelsea the other day, the manager whispered in my ear in the dressing room, You know the England managers here He had a cheeky grin on his face. It was nice to see him (Capello) here, and if I keep playing well for Sunderland, hopefully hell want to come back again soon. While Bent will spend today training at the Academy of Light, nine Sunderland players are currently away on international duty with their country. John Mensah was celebrating on Sunday evening after he helped Ghana book their World Cup spot with a 2-0 victory over Sudan, but things have not been as positive for either George McCartney or Craig Gordon. Northern Irishman Mc- Cartney has suffered a hamstring injury that could keep him sidelined for six weeks, while Scotsman Gordon injured his thigh in Saturdays win over Macedonia and is a major doubt for this evenings must-win clash at home to Holland.
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