Mills’ message to axed Bent

ENGLAND: ‘Don’t give up’ - that’s the message from former England skipper Mick Mills after Darren Bent missed out on Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad.

The former Ipswich Town striker was one of the seven players told by Capello yesterday that their services will not be needed in South Africa.

It is the second time Bent has missed out on a World Cup squad after being left behind in 2006 thanks to the controversial selection of Theo Walcott, who has been left out on this occasion, by Sven Goran Eriksson.

But Mills, who captained England to the World Cup finals in 1982, believes there is still time for the Sunderland man to make a name for himself on the international stage.

“His initial reaction will be that it could be the end for him but I don’t think it is,” he said. “He will be 28 at the next European Championships and as things stand he is likely to be the third choice striker then.

“Neither Emile Heskey nor Peter Crouch are likely to be around then as they are both not getting any younger. Darren has got to make sure he does not let anyone overtake him during that time.”

Bent plundered 25 goals in all competitions for Sunderland with Wayne Rooney the only Englishman to have found the net more last season, yet he still finds himself cast into the international wilderness.

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Mills believes that as soon as Capello decided to only take four strikers that the writing was on the wall for the Blues’ youth academy product.

“Some managers like to take five strikers to big tournaments while others will only take four,” added Mills. “Capello has obviously decided that he can live with four and Darren is the one to miss out.

“I think the fact that both Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole can play as auxiliary strikers has also gone against him.

“He knows what they can both do behind Rooney. Gerrard has played as a second striker for Liverpool for the past couple of season while Joe Cole looked good behind Rooney in the friendly at the weekend.

“I always had my suspicions that he was just behind Jermain Defoe in the pecking order.”

Perhaps the most surprising omission from the World Cup party was the decision to axe Walcott but Mills believes Capello has made the right decision.

“I think Aaron Lennon has just pushed himself ahead in the pecking order and then it came down to a straight choice between (Shaun) Wright-Phillips and Walcott.

“Walcott has been a very slow developer at Arsenal and I don’t think he’s quite ready. Wright Phillips has got a bit more experience than him and that perhaps gave him the edge.”