Bent focus on survival

If the worst comes to the worst, at least Darren Bent will know he did everything he could to try and impress Fabio Capello for a World Cup berth.

Darren Bent has proved to be one of the best signings of last summer and is now doing everything he can to keep Sunderland in the Barclays English Premier League and maybe earn a place at the World Cup finals this summer.

With the Black Cats having endured a miserable run of form which has threatened to see them get dragged into the relegation battle, Bent has even switched off his Twitter account as he focuses on the run-in to the end of the season.

The striker has been well known for his use of the social networking site and has given his many followers a colourful insight into his career with his tweets, but has now shut down his account.

“I had a good chat with the manager recently and I just thought with the run we’re on at the moment, I needed to get rid of the distractions,” said the 26-year-old.

“I have to solely focus on getting Sunderland out of the relegation battle and I have shut the Twitter down. It became a distraction I didn’t need. I thought I would fully concentrate on the football.” With 15 EPL goals to his name this season, it could be argued that his tweets have not proved a distraction so far. Sunderland’s GBP10million record signing has settled in well at the Stadium of Light and only Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba have scored more EPL goals during this campaign.

While Peter Crouch may have rejected a move to the north-east for the brighter lights of London last summer, Bent was more concerned about playing regular first-team football and was only too happy to leave Tottenham.

He bought an apartment in Gateshead and did his homework on his new club, watching a number of DVDs to understand the history of the Black Cats and the passion of the fans.

He had spent two years at White Hart Lane prior to his move north and was Spurs’ top scorer last season with 17 in all competitions but became frustrated at the amount of time spent sitting on the bench.

The record GBP16.5 million signing had to compete with Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe for a first-team place during his time at Tottenham, although he did enough to earn an England recall in November 2008.

He has been in and out of the squad and was recalled again last November. He started the friendly with Brazil but faces tough competition for a spot on the plane to South Africa.

Bent began his career as a trainee at Ipswich, where he made 141 appearances and scored 55 goals. That secured a move to Charlton, as well as an England under-21 call-up, and the goals continued to flow at The Valley.

Two seasons in south London produced another 37 goals and he made his senior England debut against Uruguay in March 2006 but missed out on a World Cup place, with Sven-Goran Eriksson instead opting for untried teenager Theo Walcott.

Bent admitted being overlooked was “a big disappointment” and concedes he would be “heartbroken” if the same thing happens this summer.

If the worst comes to the worst, at least he will know he did everything he could to try and impress Fabio Capello. Bent used his Twitter account to highlight his dismay when his mother was racially abused by a Sunderland fan prior to their game at Wigan last November. He tweeted: “So we get beat by Wigan and to make matters worse my mum gets racially abused by a SUNDERLAND fan. I won’t stand for that.” A supporter was later convicted and banned from attending matches for three years.

Not married but has dated Gemma Atkinson, the former girlfriend of Cristiano Ronaldo, and is now thought to be dating Nadine Ferguson — the ex-wife of Preston boss and Sir Alex’s son Darren Ferguson.

Has been known to drive a Range Rover and Aston Martin but has more lately been spotted behind the wheel of a white Lamborghini Gallardo.

FACTFILE Name: Darren Bent Position: Striker Club: Sunderland D.O.B: 6/2/84 England caps: 5 England goals: 0 England debut: v Uruguay, March 2006 Moment to remember

Not quite a career highlight but nobody will forget the goal he scored against Liverpool earlier this season, when his shot deflected off a beach ball on the pitch, leaving goalkeeper Jose Reina no chance.

Moment to forget

His use of Twitter landed him in hot water at Tottenham, when he launched a foul-mouthed rant at chairman Daniel Levy as his desired move to Sunderland looked to be stalling. He later issued an apology.

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