Darren Bent, the Aston Villa striker, is the front-runner to partner Wayne Rooney in England’s attack in their Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales on Saturday at the Millennium Stadium.
Earlier in the week it appeared that England manager Fabio Capello was going to name Liverpool’s £35m striker Andy Carroll in his starting XI for his second international appearance. But the striker, who made his debut in the November international against France, is still lacking match fitness following a recent groin injury and Capello isn’t eager to risk the 21-year-old target-man.
The choice, without Carroll, would appear to be between Bent and Peter Crouch, the Tottenham Hotspur striker who has 22 goals in 42 international caps, including 17 from 19 starts. (Jermain Defoe is also in the squad but is badly out-of-form, with only two Premier League goals this season).
However, the Three Lions boss is known to distrust Crouch on-the-field, believing that he gives the ball away too much, gives away unnecessary fouls and is too static.
Therefore, Capello is increasingly likely to start with Bent, who has impressed in his last two England appearances, scoring in away matches against Switzerland in October, and against Denmark last month.
It is reckoned that the striker’s pace and ability to run channels and stretch play will be more to England’s advantage in what will be a hostile atmosphere in Cardiff.
Bent, 27, moved to Villa Park from Sunderland in January for £24m and has 14 goals this season, although only three since his move to struggling Villa.