Bent aiming to roll Swiss over

It was Bent’s first England goal, in the autumn Euro 2012 qualifier

with the Swiss in Basle, that lifted a big weight off his shoulders

and he has not looked back. Aston Villa’s £18million record

signing followed that up by netting against Denmark in February and

then Wales the following month in addition to nine goals in 16

games at club level. Bent said: “I’m at a period now where I feel

more confident than ever before in my career in terms of England.

“I don’t think I have even been in so many squads consecutively and

got on the pitch so often as well. “I feel I am playing really well

at the moment, things are going in the right direction and long may

it continue.” Bent admitted: “The goal in Switzerland early on in

the season really lifted a weight off my shoulders. “Playing for

England is the top, top level and people questioned whether I could

score goals for England before that. “That goal was massive for me

and I have grown in confidence since then. “I like to think I’ve

changed a few perceptions of me over the past few months. Hopefully

I can keep doing that.” Bent’s current upbeat emotions are in stark

contrast to 12 months ago when he was left out of England’s World

Cup squad for South Africa after being part of the provisional 30

strong party. “It was disappointing not to go to the World Cup and

in the friendlies beforehand it was difficult as half the squad

knew they were on the plane and the other were fighting to go. “In

my own mind, I knew I hadn’t done enough to get picked but you

always hope. “At the same time I tried to take the positives, move

on this season and tried to do well for club and country.”

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick is the only injury

casualty after being forced to withdraw from the squad with a hip

problem.