Darren: I want 25!
DARREN Bent has set himself a 25-goal target in the new season – and is still kicking himself that he failed to reach that tally last term.Ipswich's 19-year-old striker, who recently committed himself to the club until 2006, is currently planning a sunshine break.
By Mel Henderson
DARREN Bent has set himself a 25-goal target in the new season – and is still kicking himself that he failed to reach that tally last term.
Ipswich's 19-year-old striker, who recently committed himself to the club until 2006, is currently planning a sunshine break.
He intends escaping for a couple of weeks with best pal Darren Ambrose, a Town team-mate until his £1million move to Newcastle in March.
But Bent's thoughts raced ahead to the 2003-2004 campaign when he said: "I think it's going to be an exciting season – both for me and the team.
"My aim is to get 25 goals and to be honest I should have got that many last season. I set myself a target of 15 and ended up with 18, so I was pleased with that."
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However, Bent can't stop thinking about what might have been, adding: "I also missed two penalties and there were a lot of scoring chances that I didn't take.
"I know you can't expect to convert every chance but when I think about the ones I didn't put away they keep adding up. I could easily have scored 25 goals."
Bent will report back for pre-season training on July 9, a week after his club colleagues regroup to start preparing for the big kick-off.
But he revealed: "I could have delayed my return until the 16th – that's when Darren goes back with Newcastle – but I didn't want to wait that long.
"We go on our pre-season tour on July 17, so if I only got back to pre-season training the day before there is no way I would have been match fit."
Bent has been given extra leave because of his involvement with the England Under-21 squad.
He and Ambrose were both in the squad that attended a training get-together in Sardinia ahead of games against Serbia & Montenegro and Slovakia.
Bent, a late substitute, netted the winner against the former and believes the whole experience has made him a better player.
He added: "I'm learning all the time at my age and I am convinced I can make a bigger contribution for Ipswich next season.
"The aim has to be automatic promotion and if I can score on a regular basis it will surely help us.
"I know we have lost a few players, but I still think the squad is strong enough to make the Premiership.
"There's young lads like Antonio Murray, Aidan Collins and Dean Bowditch ready to come through, but we don't lack experience either. We have some fantastic players.
"I just hope we can get off to a flying start. That's where it went wrong for us last season, when we had so many stupid results.
"If we can put that right and get firmly into our stride from the word go, I am sure we'll be fine."