Bent: I want to go

DARREN Bent has probably played his last game for Ipswich.The England Under-21 striker, who netted 19 goals in the season just ended, wants to play in the Premiership.

DARREN Bent has probably played his last game for Ipswich.

The England Under-21 striker, who netted 19 goals in the season just ended, wants to play in the Premiership.

And with Town losing out in the play-offs to West Ham for the second year in a row, he is ready to take the plunge now, rather than try again next term.

Ipswich boss Joe Royle said today: “Darren has informed us through his agent that he feels the time is right to move on and play in the Premiership.

“We will just have to wait and see what happens, whether there is interest in him and if there are clubs out there who are prepared to make offers.

“We don't want to lose Darren, but we hear what he is saying. However, it is still very early days.”

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Bent is under contract until June next year, but if he moves on Royle will look at his contingency list of players in the hope of finding a replacement.

With speculation also rife that Sunderland want to capture out-of-contract star Tommy Miller, there could be a number of changes in Portman Road personnel over the close season.

Royle added: “If we were to lose Darren and Tommy, you are talking about a 34-goal gap that we would need to plug and I would want to do it sooner rather than later.”

The Town boss is unaware of which of his out-of-contract players are attracting interest elsewhere.

He intends to see five of them - Miller, Shefki Kuqi, Fabian Wilnis, Jim Magilton and Drissa Diallo - over the next two days. The sixth, Pablo Counago, is back in Spain at the moment.

Royle said: “Once I have spoken to the players things will become that bit clearer and we have our end-of-season board meeting on Thursday.

“I have drawn up a contingency list of players from which I will look to replace any that are leaving.”

Meanwhile, Miller, who scored 15 goals last season, will sit down tomorrow with Royle to discuss a new deal.

But with money tight, Ipswich will know their best offer is unlikely to come close to the wages the 26-year-old midfielder could collect in the top flight.

And with Miller available from July 1 on a Bosman free transfer, he is exactly the type of player that Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy is after to reinforce his Championship-winning squad.

Miller's end-of-season tally was just two fewer than Stadium of Light top scorer Marcus Stewart, the former Ipswich star who has since been released and looks set to sign for home-town club Bristol City.

Sunderland's second leading marksman, Stephen Elliott, managed 16 goals last term, so Miller's statistics are impressive by any standards.

McCarthy has made no secret of the fact that he is keen to sign players who are young, strong and tall, with a good scoring record and likely to settle in quickly.

Once Ipswich's fate was sealed by their play-off defeat by West Ham, Miller made it clear he was keen to stay.

He said: “I'm very settled.”

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