Bent hopes to be sharp-shooter

Bent has resumed training after missing the last two games with a

thigh problem and is expected to return to action in Monday’s

Premier League clash at Stoke. He angered some fans by going

shopping during the latter stages of the Liverpool game on Sunday.

But the striker has since apologised for upsetting any supporters

and now has his thoughts on boosting his goal tally. The

27-year-old scored nine goals in 16 games last season after his

£18million move from Sunderland – an average of one every 1.77

matches. But he has been on target five times in 14 appearances

during the current campaign – a ratio of one every 2.8 games. Bent

said: “Throughout my career, I’ve always maintained a one-in-two

ratio and at the moment it’s virtually one every three games this

season. “I could easily be in double figures and had numerous

chances this season but for some reason it just hasn’t been

happening. “But all it takes is a goal here and there and things

will kick back into place. “As long as the chances keep coming, I’m

confident I can score regularly.” Bent missed out on selection for

the 2006 and 2010 World Cups while England did not qualify for Euro

2008. He has become a regular part of the side during 2012 after a

run of four goals in five internationals but is taking nothing for

granted. Bent said: “I’d love to be part of a major tournament with

England but I never take anything for granted or count my chickens.

“I suppose I’m like that because a lot has happened to me with

England squads. “I missed out on the 2006 and 2010 World Cups after

being in contention beforehand. “But I just hope I do myself

justice, play well for Villa, and keep hold of the shirt and stay

part of the squad.” Villa boss Alex McLeish confirmed he expects

Bent to be available for the trip to the Britannia Stadium. He

said: “Darren looked sharp in training and I don’t see any reason

why he won’t be involved on Monday.” McLeish is aware of the lift a

win at Stoke would have on his players who produced a

vastly-improved performance when beaten 2-1 at home by Arsenal in

midweek. He said: “It is a big challenge and a tough place to go

but if it’s one we can win, then the confidence would soar through

the roof. “The good thing was our approach against Arsenal. I felt

in a couple of the recent games against the elite clubs, the

players were a wee bit intimidated. “Against Arsenal, they let the

shackles off. It’s a lot to do with the mentality.”