Bent glad to still be at Portman Road

AS Darren Bent today prepares for what could be the biggest month of his footballing life he does so with no regrets.The Ipswich Town top scorer, who has won the Powergen-East Anglian Daily Times Player of the Year award, could easily have been playing for Newcastle United in the UEFA Cup semi-finals on Thursday but turned the Geordies down to stay at Portman Road.

AS Darren Bent today prepares for what could be the biggest month of his footballing life he does so with no regrets, writes Derek Davis.

The Ipswich Town top scorer, who has won the Powergen-East Anglian Daily Times Player of the Year award, could easily have been playing for Newcastle United in the UEFA Cup semi-finals on Thursday but turned the Geordies down to stay at Portman Road.

It was a big decision, especially when best mate Darren Ambrose made the switch, but Bent is convinced he did the right thing.

The England Under-21 striker said: "Newcastle are a big club with big ambitions but I'm happy with my decision. I have played regularly for another season which I feel has helped me big time.


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"Playing virtually every week has been fantastic and you can't get better experience than actually playing. So I'm glad I stayed and played rather than 10 minutes here and there and perhaps a few reserve games at Newcastle.

"You have seen with Lomana Lua Lua how he is scoring goals every week now and doing really well at Portsmouth when he was not getting much of a chance at Newcastle.

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"Ambrose has played in the UEFA Cup semi-finals and is in the side regular now and he has done well, but with me it was not the right time to go.

"Everyone wants to play in the Premiership and hopefully I will be playing there next season – preferably with Ipswich."

Bent was delighted to win the prestigious Powergen/EADT award which is based on player ratings given during the season by the EADT.

He said: "It is great to be made the Powergen player of the year. Like all the players I always look at what mark you have given me after a game.

"It is always nice to pick up individual awards, but it is the team that has got me this award as they have supplied the chances.

"To edge out Jamma is good as well as he has done really well this season. I fancy him to win the Players' Player of the Year. Kelvin is another who has done really well with some fantastic saves in crucial games. Tommy has weighed in with 12 goals from midfield, which is fabulous, and Westy has come on leaps and bounds.

"Shefki has also scored quite a few, as did Pablo before he got injured. We have so many options up front."

Bent is not a bad judge and the EADT can today exclusively reveal that Jermaine Wright (Jamma) has indeed won the Players' Player of the Year award.

While shipping goals as a team has been a problem, Bent is convinced the threat from so many different areas of the pitch is a real plus for Town, and should be enough to see them reach the play-off final in Cardiff at the end of the month.

First though they face Cardiff City, who rely heavily on Robert Earnshaw for their goals.

With Andy Campbell pulling a muscle in training yesterday, Earnshaw will be partnered by Alan Lee, even though it will cost the Bluebirds £50,000 in an extra transfer payment to Rotherham.

The other alternative is teenager Stuart Fleetwood, who has been scoring regularly in the reserves and went on for the last 20 minutes against Wimbledon last week.

Bent said: "With Cardiff you know they have two main threats and with Peter Thorne not playing that just leaves Robert Earnshaw, and if he doesn't score it is hard to see where else their goals will come from.

"This is the biggest game of the season and up until now the biggest in my career but I'm hoping they will be even bigger in the next few weeks."

Bent will receive his award on the pitch at about 12.30pm before the Cardiff game. Ian Westlake will be handed the Supporters' Club player-of the Year award and the Players' Player of the Year will also be presented.

The Powergen/EADT Player of the Year award is presented to the player who finishes with the highest average in ratings out of 10 awarded by Derek Davis after each Ipswich Town game. Darren Bent averaged 7.41 in his 32 starts and scored 15 goals. Jermaine Wright was runner-up with 7.38 marks. Ian Westlake, Kelvin Davis, Richard Naylor, Jim Magilton, Matt Richards and Tommy Miller all finished within 0.22 of each other.

Roll of Honour

Powergen/EADT Player of the Year: Darren Bent.

Players' Player of the Year: Jermaine Wright.

Supporters' Player of the Year: Ian Westlake.

John Kerridge Award for Most Improved Player: Ian Westlake.

Dale Roberts' Award for Academy Player of the Year: Dean Bowditch.

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