Bent favourite to start for England as Terry ruled out
Darren Bent is the clear favourite to partner Wayne Rooney in a new-look England strike partnership for tomorrow's Euro 2012 qualifier at home to Montenegro.
With injuries ruling out Jermain Defoe and Bobby Zamora, it is understood that Fabio Capello is considering giving Bent his first competitive start ahead of Peter Crouch and Kevin Davies.
Capello, who will also be without John Terry after the defender pulled out of the squad with a back injury, had attempted to lure Emile Heskey out of international retirement for one more match but was snubbed, which led to Davies' call-up.
Although the England manager is yet to finalise his starting line-up for the match at Wembley, it is believed he regards the 33-year-old Bolton Wanderers striker as a useful impact substitute against what could be very defensive opponents.
Bent scored after coming on as a substitute against Switzerland in England's last match -- his first goal for his country -- and has been in prolific form again in the Premier League for Sunderland. He has scored seven goals for his club so far this season.
Although Bent got his first call-up five years ago, for the friendly against Denmark in Copenhagen, he has gained just seven international caps and played in only two competitive matches despite scoring 78 goals in the Premier League during that time.
He missed the cut for the World Cup after being included in Capello's original 30-strong squad following a poor performance in the warm-up match against Japan, when he partnered Rooney.
He also lined up alongside Rooney in his previous appearance before that, in the friendly against Brazil in Qatar, when again he disappointed.
Bent (26) does appear to have the movement and power to complement Rooney, as well an eye for goal. His inclusion would be a blow to Crouch, in particular, especially given the other absentees from the squad.
It would seem that Capello is not considering playing Rooney as a lone striker or asking Steven Gerrard to feature in a more advanced role.
Instead, he will partner Gareth Barry in the centre of England's midfield with Adam Johnson also likely to start.
Capello must decide whether to begin the match with Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Joe Cole or Shaun Wright-Phillips, although there must also be a strong temptation to include Jack Wilshere, who continues to impress the Italian. (© Daily Telegraph, London)