Bent keen to shine against Spain
Darren Bent is viewing England's international friendly with Spain as a chance to prove he can perform against the best opposition and help convince Fabio Capello to include him in his UEFA EURO 2012 squad. Bent spearheads one of the least experienced strikeforces assembled by Capello, who will miss his son's wedding in Italy as it clashes with Saturday's game at Wembley
The Aston Villa player has won only 11 caps himself but that is five more than the combined tally of the other strikers in Capello's squad - Gabriel Agbonlahor (three caps), Danny Welbeck (two), Bobby Zamora (one) and Daniel Sturridge (none). Bent has netted four goals in his last five internationals but he is not getting ahead of himself after missing out on selection for the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups.
However, he knows showing what he is capable of against the reigning world and European champions can only enhance his chances of being on the plane to Poland and Ukraine next June. Bent said: "I remember playing against Brazil a couple of years ago and thinking 'wow, I've never played a team like it'. This is going up another gear. Spain are the best team in the world, who won the last World Cup and the Euros.
"They've got players out of this world and will be a great game to be involved in. It would be great to play against someone like Spain and prove you can handle yourself at that level. There is no-one better. They are the top, top level and you are going to meet people like them next summer so it's a chance to show what you can do."
Bent has slotted in effectively in tandem with Wayne Rooney, who has been left out of this squad following his three-match ban for the Euro finals while Capello experiments. But the former Sunderland player has had enough international setbacks to take nothing for granted. He said: "Some people have said to me 'you are a regular player now for England' but I don't want to count my chickens because a lot has happened to me with England squads.
"My caution is after missing out on the 2010 finals. So much can change, even going back to 2006 when I got left out of those finals as well. I can't count my chickens but if I keep playing well, and the ball keeps flying in the net, then that's all I can do."
Agbonlahor is recalled after a two-year absence and has impressed alongside Bent at club level this season. But Capello is also eager to assess the potential of Welbeck and Sturridge with the Chelsea youngster called up at senior level for the first time.
In all, there are 11 players with six caps or less in the squad which is lacking the likes of Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere. All 25 members of the squad are expected to meet up during the latter part of this evening at their Hertfordshire base before training for the first time tomorrow. Major injury doubts surround Everton centre-back Phil Jagielka. He has a hairline fracture of his toe which will be assessed overnight by England's medical staff.
It was originally intended that the England-Spain match would be played on Friday evening, but the friendly was put back a day as Barcelona - who provide eight of the Spanish squad - are in action this evening against L'Hospitalet in the Copa del Rey. Capello's wife, Laura, will be attending the wedding ceremony. England host another friendly international against Sweden on Tuesday and Capello has no plans at present to return to Italy in between the two games.