Darren Bent is hoping that a successful loan spell with Fulham could revive his England career in time for him to secure a spot in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad.
In a frank interview with the Daily Telegraph, Bent admits that this summer has been one of the longest of his career and believes that he wasn’t even sure that he would be among the substitutes at Aston Villa had he stayed at Villa Park. Having agreed with Paul Lambert in May that he should look for another club, Bent was surprised when he was told to vacate the first-team dressing room, empty his belongings from his locker and train with the youth team. The message was loud and clear: he wasn’t wanted any more.
It’s been a long, long summer. There’s been a lot of speculation about where I was going to go and where I was going to play my football, but it was Fulham who did the most work in getting me to the club and that’s why I’m their player.
It was really difficult at Villa because we weren’t allowed to play in any matches, a few of us were kind of alienated to train with the kids. It has been difficult. There were times when I was thinking: ‘Do I really deserve this?’ It’s all well and good not being part of the squad, but to be treated like we have is bad.
It was horrible. It wasn’t so much the injuries, although they certainly didn’t help, it was just the uncertainty. There were times I was in the squad and times I wasn’t and there was just no explanation why. I understand that not every player can be every manager’s cup of tea, but to be alienated like that, to be kicked out of the first-team dressing-room, when I’ve played a long time, when I’m an international, just felt a bit disappointing.
Bent was expected to join Newcastle and then newly-promoted Crystal Palace, but opted instead to team up with his former Tottenham manager Martin Jol at Craven Cottage. Having been an unused substitute on the opening day at the Stadium of Light, the 29 year-old is in line to make his Fulham debut against Arsenal this weekend. He’s certainly chomping at the bit:
I’m happy to be a Fulham player and I’m looking forward to kicking on from here. I’m not just hungry to play football again, I’m absolutely starving.
I’ve missed out on a couple of major competitions with England, but I just hope this is my year. I need to get back to playing regularly, scoring goals for Fulham. That’s what I do best. There’s still so much to come from me, I can promise you that.
In the Guardian, Bent offers a little more background on why he decided to join Fulham:
I know Martin Jol. I’ve worked with him before, he signed me at Tottenham and I respect him hugely.
Fulham are a strong, solid team and a good, solid club who have got some fantastic players. It’s no secret that Newcastle were in for me, too, and there was a lot of speculation and I spoke to them but it never really materialised. Crystal Palace are a good side and I’d like to thank them for their interest but at this stage of my career I just felt that the best place for me was Fulham.