Bent must show there’s more to his game than goals

Trevor Steven
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AS DAUNTING a task as depleted England face against Spain, tomorrow’s friendly will provide manager Fabio Capello with the ideal opportunity to gauge the merits of those forwards vying to replace the suspended Wayne Rooney at Euro 2012.

With the tools he has at his disposal I can’t see the England manager going with anything other than a 4-3-3 system, with pace on the flanks offered by Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing providing ammunition for Darren Bent.

This really is the acid test for Bent, who is often accused of being a one trick pony who scores goals but contributes little else to the cause.

The former Spurs and Sunderland man would no doubt point to his excellent goalscoring record, but at international level you can’t carry someone who rarely gets involved in general play and only comes alive inside the opposition penalty area.

I recall an England friendly against Brazil in Qatar almost exactly two years ago where Bent played for almost an hour and hardly got a kick.

It will be interesting to see how far he’s progressed in the intervening period in a game where England will be equally starved of possession, and I’d expect him to at least be more involved in the game from a defensive point of view.

As he is for Barcelona, centre-half Gerard Pique is responsible for launching the majority of Spain’s attacks and if I was Capello I’d be ordering my main striker to hassle, harry and unsettle him as much as possible.

That sort of work-rate is something I’ve certainly noticed in Danny Welbeck in the appearances he’s made for Manchester United this season and I’d expect him to be given an opportunity to shine in place of Bent at some stage of the game.

That said, it would be pointless recalling Gabriel Agbonlahor and ignoring the opportunity to see if the partnership he, Bent and Stewart Downing once forged at Aston Villa translates to the international stage.

A change of manager at Villa seems to have coincided with Agbonlahor regaining his spark and he appears to have added a touch of finesse to the searing pace which is his main attribute.


England caps: 11
England goals: 4
2011/12 league apps: 11
2011/12 league goals: 5
Career league apps / goals: 291 / 143
Goals per game: 0.42

Age: 30
England caps: 1
England goals: 0
2011/ 12 apps: 18
2011/ 12 goals: 5
Career league apps / goals: 364 / 127
Goals per game: 0.34

Age: 22
England caps: 0
England goals: 0
2011/ 12 apps: 11
2011/ 12 goals: 5
Career league apps / goals: 66 /12
Goals per game: 0.23

Age: 20
England caps: 2
England goals: 0
2011/ 12 apps: 12
2011/ 12 goals: 5
Career league apps / goals: 51 / 12
Goals per game: 0.23

Age: 25
England caps: 3
England goals: 0
2011/ 12 apps: 12
2011/ 12 goals: 5
Career league apps / goals: 203 / 53
Goals per game: 0.26