Darren Bent will get his chance to claim a surprise place at the World Cup after Fabio Capello named him to play alongside Wayne Rooney in England’s team to face Japan in Austria today.
Bent was a late inclusion in Capello’s provisional group of 30 players because of injury to Bobby Zamora and he seemed to be there only to make up the numbers. Having missed out on training and selection for Monday's friendly against Mexico, he looked certain to be one of seven hopefuls to be left behind.
Now, Bent he finds himself in a straight shootout with out of form Emile Heskey for the last striker's slots in the final 23-man squad to be announced on Tuesday. Heskey scored just five times for Aston Villa last season, while Bent struck on 25 occasions for Sunderland.
Rooney, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe are likely to be three of England’s strikers at the World Cup finals and Bent could make himself the fourth if he scores his first International goal today.
Bookmakers Boylesports, Ladbrokes and Stan James are offering betting odds of 11/8 for him to score at anytime against the struggling Japan team.
Capello is still assessing midfield options because of Gareth Barry's ankle injury and will give Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone his first England start. Capello is waiting to see if doctors say Barry can train again by June 13, the day after England’s opener against USA in Rustenburg and may yet decide to risk taking him for the latter stages of the competition.