After scoring the winner against Hull at the weekend Sunderland striker Darren Bent demonstrated why he must go to the World Cup in South Africa with England.
The 26-year-old staked another claim this season on Saturday after netting his 25th goal of this season. With such a dearth of English striking talent and Wayne Rooney’s injury troubles the England Head Coach Fabio Capello would be mad not to include the Sunderland hitman, surely? Bent’s rivals Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Emile Heskey have all been far from impressive this season and have not shown the form or prowess that the Black Cats’ front man has enjoyed in front of goal. The Sunderland man has 24 Premier League goals, which is just one less than Chelsea’s dangerous Didier Drogba and two less than Wayne Rooney, who is the PFA Player’s Player of the Year. With all due respect to Sunderland, it is an astonishing achievement for Bent to score so many goals playing in an unfashionable side and punch weight with the best goal scorers the Premier League has to offer.
Mackem chief Steve Bruce certainly thinks his forward deserves his chance and warrants an inclusion into the England World Cup squad. “I am not going to get involved with Mr Capello, he has won more than I can dream of,” said Bruce, who added:“I’m just speaking on Bent’s behalf and it would be great if we could have a Sunderland centre-forward going to the World Cup . It would be terrific. He is more than just goals. He is willing, he is good in the air, and his link-play is good.Defoe has had a good season at Spurs, but he does not seem to perform well in the big games for his club and does not score many away from White Hart Lane either. His team mate Crouch has not performed much at all, but may find his way into the England squad because of his sheer size and previous form in front of goal for the Three Lions.
Many people are often bemused by Capello’s apparent love for Villa striker Heskey, who has only three Premier League goals and still find himself in England squads because he brings the best out of Rooney. Rooney has shown he is perfectly capable of playing upfront on his own, like he has done for his club and it could be argued that Bobby Zamora or Carlton Cole are more deserving of being on the plane to South Africa than the laboured and uninspiring Heskey.
The England manager will probably name four strikers in his squad for FIFA’s flagship tournament and Bent should be one of them (along with Rooney, Defoe and Zamora), if he isn’t what sort of message would it send?