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Page last updated at 06:48 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Bent backed for World Cup place

International friendly: Brazil v England
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium, Doha Date: Saturday, 14 November Kick-off: 1700 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live and online, with text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobile phones. Live on ITV1

Darren Bent
Bent has started the season in top form for Sunderland

By Aimee Lewis

Alan Curbishley believes England should take Sunderland striker Darren Bent to next year's World Cup in South Africa.

The 25-year-old, who was managed by Curbishley at Charlton, is in line to face Brazil on Saturday, 12 months after he won the last of his four caps.

He is the Premier League's top English scorer with eight goals and Curbishley told BBC Sport: "His goals-to-games ratio puts him right up there.

"His fitness is top notch and I cannot think of a better impact player."

When Bent's name was included in the squad for the friendly against Brazil, some headlines suggested a "shock return" for the former Tottenham and Charlton striker.

But Curbishley insists he would have been surprised had national manager Fabio Capello not picked Bent.

Darren Bent during England training
What you're going to get is the pace, power, athleticism someone who will torment a defence for 90 minutes

Alan Curbishley

"I would take him to the World Cup for two reasons," he said.

"Firstly, for his fitness levels - he's always top notch. And secondly, if you're not going to start him, then I think he will come on and change the dynamic of the game.

"When you talk to anyone about Darren Bent they'll say he's always the first one into training and the last one out.

"He would bring something different to the squad because he wants to go behind defences and I don't see too many English strikers doing that. Jermain Defoe is probably the only other one.

"He's a very, very good finisher, but he's also good in the air, deceptively so. He gets his fair share of headed goals as well. As a squad member he's got to have a chance."

Bent was also in the frame for the 2006 World Cup after finishing the Premier League season as the top English goalscorer - but was overlooked by then manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

This time around, Bent has been given his opportunity because of injuries to regular squad members Emile Heskey and Theo Walcott.

But there is a sense that there is an opening for a striker to muscle his way into Capello's World Cup squad, with Wayne Rooney the only striker to be certain of his seat on the plane to South Africa.

The likes of Peter Crouch, Heskey, Walcott, Michael Owen and, to a lesser extent, Defoe, still seem to have plenty to prove to the Italian.

Curbishley suggests Bent is ahead of Manchester United's Owen in the pecking order for a World Cup place.

"I think it's a tight call," he said. "Michael Owen, as he's shown, can come on and have an impact. But I think Michael's got to do a bit more to convince Capello than Darren Bent has."

Curbishley is undoubtedly a huge admirer of the former Ipswich forward.


He bought the striker for just £2.5m while at Charlton five years ago and pursued Bent when he managed West Ham only to be priced out of the move.

The Tooting-born striker instead moved north of the river to Tottenham, with Charlton making a £14m profit on their investment.

"Someone had doubts about playing him down the middle, and about spending a decent amount on him, but Charlton got their money's worth from Darren Bent," said Curbishley.

"I never had a minute's problem with him. But, above all, from the football side of it, I knew I was getting someone who could stretch defences and someone who had a great goalscoring record."

After a two-year spell at White Hart Lane, a period the player himself has described as "horrible", Bent is enjoying a renaissance since his record move to Sunderland in the summer.

He has started the season with gusto, scoring eight league goals in 12 starts - including goals against Chelsea, Manchester United and, with the help of a beach ball, Liverpool.

Although even at Tottenham, where his appearances were sporadic, Bent still scored 37 goals in 77 games, finishing as the club's leading scorer during the 2008/09 campaign.

Black Cats manager Steve Bruce may have been surprised by the impact Bent has made at the Stadium of Light, admitting "he's probably a better footballer than I thought he was".

But Bent, according to Curbishley, is a player "managers love to have around".

"I spoke to Steve Bruce in the summer," said Curbishley, who wants to get back into management after recently winning his case for constructive dismissal against West Ham.

"Steve knew that perhaps he was getting someone who was still a little bit raw in some respects, but he knew he was getting someone who just thrives on getting goals."

Even Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, who made the infamous "my missus could have scored that" outburst after Bent miscued in front of goal last season, has recently praised the player.

Curbishley added: "He won't be deterred if he misses one. His confidence won't be dented and he is someone who will bring more to the party in terms of team spirit and everything else.

"He gives his all. When he comes off you know he's put his shift in and you also know that the next morning he'll be up again and ready for the next challenge.

"What you're going to get is the pace, power, the athleticism and the finishing and someone who will torment a defence for 90 minutes."

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see also
Brazil 1-0 England
14 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Striker Bent gets England call-up
09 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Bruce in Bent blast over penalty
27 Sep 09 |  Sunderland
Goals will impress Capello - Bent
12 Oct 09 |  Sunderland
Sunderland move rejuvenates Bent
20 Oct 09 |  Sunderland
Bent move 'aided' by Twitter rant
06 Aug 09 |  Sunderland
Bent seals record Sunderland move
05 Aug 09 |  Sunderland
Bent apologises for online rant
31 Jul 09 |  Tottenham
Curbishley wins case over Hammers
03 Nov 09 |  West Ham
Bent admits World Cup frustration
23 Jul 06 |  Internationals
World Cup Scouting - Darren Bent
19 Apr 06 |  World Cup 2006
England need Bent, says Holland
07 Apr 06 |  Charlton

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