Bent crowns his best season yet

SHARP-shooting Darren Bent will tonight be crowned the East Anglian Daily Times Player of the Year, at a glittering awards ceremony, at Portman Road, writes Derek Davis.

SHARP-shooting Darren Bent will tonight be crowned the East Anglian Daily Times Player of the Year, at a glittering awards ceremony, at Portman Road, writes Derek Davis.

The 19-goal, leading scorer picks up the prestigious prize, sponsored by Powergen, for arguably the most consistent season of his career so far.

Players' Player of the Year Richard Naylor ran him a close second for his resolute displays at the back, and still managing to weigh in with six goals.

Jason De Vos, Fabian Wilnis and Kevin Horlock have all been monthly winners.


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The accolade is based on ratings given for every Town game throughout the season and, after starting the campaign winning a couple of monthly awards, Bent has kept up his high standards.

The 21-year-old has started every game, except the 1-1 draw at home to Burnley when he was injured, and Bent is delighted with the way the season has gone so far.

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He said: "This is a special award and to win it again is brilliant. I was a bit shocked to win it last year but this year has been my best season at the club. To keep getting good marks shows I have been pretty consistent and I'm pleased with that."

Bent is looking to hit his 20th goal at Brighton on Sunday, and hopefully help the Blues to automatic promotion.

He said: "That would be a fantastic landmark to get and I'm looking to do that, but I don't mind who scores as long as we win."

The awards have been spread around this year, with Shefki Kuqi receiving his Supporters' Player of the Year award at their annual function at Portman Road last night. Naylor was voted Players' Player and will also pick up his trophy tonight.

Kelvin Davis was honoured by his peers, chosen as the top Championship keeper in their team of the year.

Bent said: "It shows how much everyone has contributed to where we are now.

"Shefki has been among the goals, Kelvin has won us points with his saves and Bam Bam (Richard Naylor) has held the defence together and got forward to score. It has been a great team effort."

Bent has made it clear he would love to stay at Ipswich and play in the Premiership but if they don't go up this time a summer move for him may be inevitable, with the club needing the money.

He said: "I love this club, it means everything to me. I have been here since I was 10 and Ipswich Town has been brilliant to me.

"Even when I have had bad patches I look back and they weren't so bad because people around me stuck by me and helped me through them."

On top of his excellent form for Ipswich, Bent has also netted five goals in eight England under-21 internationals this season, to take his tally to eight goals in 12 games for them.

n Striker Billy Clarke, who missed the FA Youth Cup final victory over Southampton after being injured in the semi-final against Spurs, last night picked up the Dale Roberts Academy Player of the Year award.

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