We have long salivated over the goal scoring prowess of an illustrious list of England strikers. Famous names such as Lofthouse, Greaves, Charlton, Lineker, Shearer, Owen, and more recently, Rooney provided a sense of buoyancy in steering the nation to glory.
Often English goal scorers, so prolific domestically, have failed to take their finishing touch with them to the international stage. The likes of Ian Wright, Andy Cole and Robbie Fowler quickly spring to mind. Little over a year ago it looked as though we may have found our answer in Aston Villa’s Darren Bent.
Since progressing through Ipswich Town’s impressive youth system, making his senior debut for the club in 2001, he has become one of the most consistent goal poachers in English football. Apart from his relatively ill-fated time at Spurs where, after an open goal blunder then manager Redkanpp notoriously quipped, ‘my missus could have scored that one,’ he can boast a goal nearly every other game.
To date Bent has notched up 148 goals in 351 appearances in his domestic career. This included the accolade of being named the top English goal scorer, and fourth highest overall, during 2010-2011 with 17 goals. With a club record £18 million move it looked as though Aston Villa might provide the platform for Bent to really shine and transfer his goal scoring touch to an international level.
Capello was a fan and utilised Bent’s talents during England’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. The striker repaid the disciplined Italian’s faith by scoring three in three games. Then injury put a halt to Bent’s progress and ultimately cost him a place in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad.
With a lack of service post Young and Downing, as well as spending three months on the sideline, Bent remained Villa’s top scorer in a campaign where they escaped relegation by only two points.
Fast forward to the present and Bent was left out of the latest England Squad to face Moldova and Ukraine, Overlooked in favour of Carroll, Defoe, Sturridge and Welbeck.
Bent has one solitary goal this term, scoring in Villa’s heavy 4-1 defeat against the Saints at the weekend. Villa possesses the youngest squad in the Premiership and could struggle again this season.
The Holte End has new optimism with recent acquisition Benteke, and may lose patience with Bent if he fails to score as consistently as his record shows. Since signing for Charlton in 2005 a pattern of moving on every two years has emerged on the players CV.
Statistics suggest that next year he will move again. Is this perhaps what Bent needs to resist becoming England’s forgotten man?
image: © wonker