Bent recall highlights lack of squad depth

August 12, 2008
By Jon Carter

With the news that Darren Bent is close to an England recall, one has to wonder what that says about the other English strikers in the Premier League.

GettyImagesDarren Bent: Finally got his move after a long wait

Granted Bent has had an impressive pre-season, but against who? Heracles, Leyton Orient and Norwich City to name a few. Goals against Celtic, Roma and Borussia Dortmund may have added weight to the claims that he is due a call-up to Fabio Capello's squad, but can he seriously be considered an England prospect after netting in warm-up games?

The former Charlton man cost Spurs £16.5million last summer and found himself immediately behind Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov in the Spurs line-up. And while Capello claims that his players will have to be regulars for their clubs, talk of new arrivals in the shape of David Villa, Roman Pavlychenko, Andrei Arshavin and Diego Milito means that Bent is not even assured of a starting place, especially if Berbatov stays at White Hart Lane.

Bent does have pace and is certainly high on confidence, but it seems his imminent inclusion in the squad is only because of a lack of any other English frontmen.

While the Premier League boasts the likes of Fernando Torres, Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor, England's top scorer in the 2007/08 season was left languishing in tenth position in the goalscoring charts - Jermain Defoe with 12.

Indeed, Defoe, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen are the only real striking options for Capello, with Peter Crouch offering the opportunity of a target man that can change a game late on.

With Rooney's recent illness and Owen's injury woes still causing him trouble, Capello's options are limited for next week's friendly with the Czech Republic and Bent seems to be the best of the rest.

Of the others, Dean Ashton has been told he needs to lose weight before he can be considered, Emile Heskey is still viewed as too inconsistent to hold down a national team place, while Theo Walcott and Gabriel Agbonlahor are untested at the highest level.

Andrew Johnson and Alan Smith have been out of the set-up for a while now and while Defoe should stake his claim for regular inclusion with a good season at Portsmouth, in truth, the squad depth in the striking position is poor.

Spain won Euro 2008 with quality finishers Fernando Torres and David Villa keeping La Liga's top scorer Daniel Güiza on the bench. With the likes of Darren Bent and Theo Walcott on the sidelines for England, Capello's strikers seem a long way from matching up.