Bent is set new target

DARREN Bent may not have lived at home for some time but he still does what his dad tells him and is under orders to hit new goal heights, writes Derek Davis.

DARREN Bent may not have lived at home for some time but he still does what his dad tells him and is under orders to hit new goal heights, writes Derek Davis.

The England Under-21 striker reached his initial target of 15 on Saturday when he scored the winner in Ipswich Town's 2-1 victory over Gillingham but he knows he can't rest on his laurels.

Young Bent revealed: "My dad has told me I have got to get 20 now. He said there is still time, so that is what I'm aiming for now."

But the 20-year-old, who reached 18 goals last season, was more relieved that his headed winner meant three points after being one goal down at the break.

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He said: "First and foremost I'm just happy for the team that we won. We were not playing that well in the first half but Martijn (Reuser) came on and was fantastic, scored one and set one up for me.

"But it is not really about the performances now, it is about results."

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Town have won six in seven games to go fourth in the league with three games to go.

Bent has now scored eight goals in as many games since getting back in the side and puts his run of form down to the confidence shown in him by manager Joe Royle.

He said: "The Gaffer showed faith in me and has given me a run of games so I'm happy to repay that faith by scoring goals."

His goals-to-games ratio is now one in two, better than the one in three of Blues legend David Johnson, who comes to Town with Nottingham Forest, hot on the heels of another former striker favourite Marcus Stewart.

Bent is looking forward to Johnson's return but hopes he has the same success as Stewart with Sunderland, a blank sheet.

Johnson has recently returned after a broken leg and netted the second Forest goal in their 2-2 draw with Millwall on Saturday.

Bent said: "Johnno was fantastic when he was here and scored a lot of goals. He is going to be a danger man for them.

"We will be all friends off the pitch but on it, it will be war.

"You have to give respect to David Johnson, he did really well. He was in the first team when I was in the youths at the time and I didn't play with him as I did Marcus Stewart.

"It will still be fantastic to have him back and I'm sure he will get a warm reception by the fans, who appreciate what he did for Ipswich."

The Londoner, who has been at Ipswich since he was 10 years old and came through the Academy ranks, has also been on the mark for his country regularly, hitting goals at under-21, under-19 and under-17 levels.

Bent was watched by his national boss David Platt in the win over Gillingham on Saturday, with Ian Westlake and Matt Richards also coming to his notice.

Tommy Miller, who is in the initial Scotland squad to face Denmark next week, is struggling to be fit for Town's game against Forest after limping off at Gillingham with a tight hamstring.

Forest will arrive on Saturday on the back of just two defeats in 14 games, a sequence under new manager Joe Kinnear which has taken them away from the drop zone – although they are not completely safe as yet.

They will be without Gareth Taylor, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Forest will appeal against the dismissal of Wes Morgan against Millwall but he will still be available for Saturday's encounter.

n IPSWICH Town reserves travel to Portsmouth tonight with Dean Bowditch getting a run-out to keep sharp. Alun Armstrong, Georges Santos, Lewis Price and Chris Bart-Williams are all in consideration while injuries will dictate which of the young players will start. The game will be played at Havant & Waterlooville's West Leigh Park ground.

n SEASON ticket details will be announced by Ipswich Town today. The EADT revealed last week that five-year debentures will be among the new initiatives. The club will also unveil another new feature in the series of packages on offer.

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