Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Better as a Black Cat, Says Darren; 'Playing Regularly Has Made Me More Successful'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Better as a Black Cat, Says Darren; 'Playing Regularly Has Made Me More Successful'

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

DARREN Bent believes he has become a better striker since joining Sunderland in the summer having already scored more league goals for the Black Cats than he managed in either of his two seasons at Tottenham Hotspur.

Bent scored his 12th and 13th goals of the campaign at Ewood Park on Monday to take him past last season's White Hart Lane tally and put him on course for his biggest haul as a professional.

The 25-year-old found the net 19 times in league matches for Ipswich Town in 2004-05. He will have a maximum of 18 further opportunities to beat that with the Black Cats this term.

Playing second fiddle to the likes of Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Dimitar Berbatov at Tottenham hampered England striker Bent's progress, and his confidence was not helped when Spurs manager Harry Redknapp infamously claimed his wife could have put away the crucial chance he missed against Portsmouth.

But Bent believes a lack of regular football was more damaging than anything said or written about him, which is why he will be pressing manager Steve Bruce not to rest him on Saturday.

"Am I a better striker than I was at Tottenham? Yeah, definitely," he commented.

"The main thing is I'm playing games now, which I wasn't doing then. So it's not so much a case of me being a better striker, it's a case of me getting a chance and taking it, really."

Sunderland's FA Cup third round tie at home to Barrow offers the chance for Bruce to give match practice to the few fit members of his first-team squad lacking it. Strikers Daryl Murphy and David Healy both fall into that category, and with Fraizer Campbell yet to break his duck for the club, Bruce may want to give him the opportunity of "easy" goals against Conference opposition.

Bent is yet to play cup football for the Wearsiders, having been left out of all Sunderland's League Cup matches this season. …

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