Bent in fitness race
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England and Aston Villa striker Darren Bent admits he faces a real battle to recover from ankle ligament surgery in time to play in UEFA EURO 2012.

Bent had established himself as one of England's first-choice strikers since his move to Aston Villa from Sunderland 15 months ago. However, the former Tottenham forward isn't expected back in action until May, giving him only a slim chance of proving his fitness for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

The 28-year-old sustained the injury after landing awkwardly following a challenge from Antolin Alcaraz at Wigan in February. The striker has recently come off crutches and is undergoing gym work and swimming as the first part of his recovery programme.

"It's too early to say for England. We'll have to wait until I'm outside running and kicking a ball," Bent said.

"The quicker I'm out on the pitch running, the quicker I can have an inkling about EURO 2012.

"But I am on the mend, can walk without crutches and have just started rehab work in the pool and also doing stuff in the gym as well."