Darren aims to turn up heat

IN-FORM Ipswich striker Darren Bent was hoping to extend his recent hot scoring streak in today's under-21 international friendly against Sweden in Kristianstad (kick-off 4pm).

By Mel Henderson

IN-FORM Ipswich striker Darren Bent was hoping to extend his recent hot scoring streak in today's under-21 international friendly against Sweden in Kristianstad (kick-off 4pm).

Bent has scored five goals in his last four Town appearances, including a hat-trick at Walsall, and was reunited with best pal Darren Ambrose when the squad assembled on Sunday.

The 20-year-old was also on target in the last England under-21 fixture, firing an 88th minute winner in the 3-2 win over Holland at Hull six weeks ago.

History repeated itself that night as Bent repeated his feat of the previous June, in a win over Serbia & Montenegro at the same stadium, by the same scoreline and in the very same minute!

His recent scoring burst at club level has taken him to the top of the Town scoring chart, alongside Pablo Counago with a season's tally of 12.

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Bent said: “Things have been going well for me after a bit of a stop-start first six months of the season and I'm really buzzing, looking forward to every game I play.

“Strikers get confidence from scoring, so I've no complaints at the moment. I always get an extra buzz from playing for England and it would be great to start this game.”

Ambrose, who moved from Ipswich to Newcastle just over a year ago, is starting to make a name for himself on Tyneside.

England Under-21 boss David Platt again has an inexperienced squad to choose from for the game that is not televised domestically. But Platt feels that serves a purpose as his players can focus on this level for some time.

Platt, though, will still be looking for a player or two to push through, with Leeds' James Milner potentially one of those who could make a name for himself.

Despite fighting a relegation battle with Leeds and playing in every match since caretaker-boss Eddie Gray took over, the 18-year-old is forging a reputation and has finally won his first call-up to the under-21s.

“I'm delighted,” said Milner. “At the moment I'm concentrating on playing for Leeds and getting out of the mess we are in, but I see this as a bit of a reward because to get an international call-up shows you are doing something right.

“I've played at various levels now for England and you've just got to make sure you learn from every experience, take everything on board and hope it stands you in good stead for the future.

“People say you have lots of time, but like any player you just want to play as soon as you can and as soon as you're ready, and get as many caps under your belt as possible.

“The earlier you get into the squads the better, because you've more time to learn and hopefully it will prepare you for the step up to the full squad.”

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