Bent wants Villa duo to stay

Bent has benefited from the service provided by Manchester United

target Young and Downing – linked strongly with Liverpool – since

his £18 million move from Sunderland to Villa in January. It

has helped him to become a first-choice striker for England and he

will be looking to score for the fourth successive international on

Saturday against Switzerland at Wembley. Bent said: “I’ve been in

both of their ears trying to convince them (Young and Downing) to

stay. “They are two top, top players and, if we can hold onto them

next season, it will be fantastic. “I hope they stay. What is going

on in their careers and lives is down to them. “But for me, being a

striker, you want the best service and they are probably the two

best wingers in the league. “If we can keep hold of them two I will

be very, very happy.” Bent netted nine times in 16 games for Villa

and carried that form into the international arena with his goals

against Denmark and Wales after breaking his duck in the autumn

against Switzerland. He said: “A lot of people, when I made the

move, were questioning if it was the right decision. “I always knew

in my head it was the right decision for me and my performances for

Villa have been good. “I’ve managed to get goals and my England

career has picked up as well. For me, it was the perfect move at

the right time.” Bent may be at the forefront of Capello’s current

plans but a year ago to the day he suffered heartbreak when being

left out of the World Cup squad for South Africa. It made him

determined to return this season and make the kind of impact which

meant he could not be marginalised by the England head coach. He

said: “I was really disappointed when the squad was announced. I

remember sitting by the phone all morning and it was a really

disappointing day for me. “I tried to put it out of my mind and get

on with it. Obviously it took a lot longer than I thought it was

going to take. “But at the same time, you just want to keep playing

well and hopefully not miss another major tournament. “I went away

to America on holiday and watched all the games over there as a fan

and wanted them to do well. “Since the World Cup, and when Fabio

didn’t pick me, he has played me virtually everytime I’ve been fit.

“I’ve managed to reward him with goals and hopefully there will be

a few more for me. “The goal against Switzerland gave me massive

confidence. “It felt like a big weight had been lifted off my

shoulders because as a striker and a goalscorer you always want to

score goals. “I had a few caps and had not got any goals and you

start to think ‘when is the first one coming’ but I was fortunate

to get in the right place at the right time again and stuck it

away.” Bent is determined England qualify for the Euro 2012 finals

after being part of the squad which lost to Croatia at Wembley and

failed to go through to the 2008 tournament. He said: “That was

international-wise the lowest point. The atmosphere wasn’t good at

all and the conditions were horrible and raining. “I didn’t get

much of the game (the last 10 minutes as a substitute) but it was

really disappointing. “This time around we’ve got off to a good

start and hopefully we can keep on track by beating Switzerland,

play really well, get the three points and give ourselves a big

opportunity to kick on.” A goal against the Swiss would also break

Bent’s duck at Wembley. He said: “I’ve not got a goal at Wembley

for anyone to be honest. I’ve thought about that a couple of times.

“I would like to put that one to bed so if I get an opportunity to

play this weekend, hopefully that’s another one I can chalk off.

“I’m not sure it will be quite on the scale of Messi’s though! (in

the Champions League final).” Manchester United midfielder Michael

Carrick has withdrawn from the squad with a hip problem and is

Capello’s only injury setback.