So if some reports from the England camp are to be believed, Darren Bent may be one missed game away from being left behind when England head for South Africa.
I have read both that he had a pulled hamstring and that he was simply suffering some stiffness and was, as a precaution, kept out out of the reckoning for any role, even as benchwarmer, in last night’s 3-1 win over Mexico.
If Darren cannot – or does not – play in Sunday’s match against Japan in Austria, he will then have virtually no chance of making the reduced final squad.
That would be a great shame for a man to whom a seat on the plane would mean so much. Salut! Sunderland would be thrilled for Darren if he not only showed his fitness in the coming days but came on at some stage vs Japan and did what Defoe could not do as a sub last night – score goals to make Capello reconsider any negative thoughts.
We have come to expect setbacks for Sunderland players linked with England. Many Salut! Sunderland readers will have seen last night’s game. Was there anything that might encourage our man?
Match reports I have seen don’t help. The annoying Crouch made one and scored one – the latter probably offside and probably involving a handball, said the Telegraph – and Defoe’s “clever pass” triggered the Rooney-Gerrard link-up that nearly brought another goal.
Darren is not out of it yet, but his chances are fading.
In an article on the Liverpool Echo website – the headline “Enlgand warm up for World Cup with Liverpool FC’s Steven Gerrard inpsiring win over Mexico” offering compelling proof that newspapers need sub-editors – Dominic King says Rooney, Defoe and Heskey must be in the final party.
“That leaves a straight fight between Darren Bent and Peter Crouch but, in reality, there is nothing for Capello to consider. Crouch, simply, has to be on the plane as whenever he plays for England, he makes things happen.”
Such reports ignore the fact that Bent has never really had the chance to “make things happen” for England, or Enlgand as the Liverpool Echo would have it. But we have to face the likelihood that something exceptional would need to occur on Sunday for him to go to South Africa after all.
Even footballfancast.com, in an article arguing Bent in/Heskey out, says it is unlikely to happen:
(Heskey) has not started enough games for Aston Villa this season, so how on earth has he made the England provisional squad? Darren Bent will likely be sent home by the Italian, but many will want (like me) Heskey to pack his bags and watch the world cup from the luxury of his own armchair…he certainly deserves to. If he gets on the plane to South Africa in June then lord help us.
This prompted a Spurs fan, “The Yid”, to make the frankly ludicrous point that Bent’s success at Charlton and Sunderland, but failure at Tottenham, shows he “can’t make it at a bigger club”. Surely it is the level at which a player scores goals that counts, and to score so many in what was for much of the season an indifferent team makes the achievement more, not less, striking.
Let Darren Bent take heart from the fact that he was at least called up for the final stage of selection, which represents impressive recognition in itself. He should also take enormous pride is his magnificent goal-scoring exploits of last season.
And let us hope he can give us more of the same next season, even if it means first having to get over acute disappointment.
* Photo from the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Official Facebook Fan Page for Darren Bent