Bent looks to silence boo-boys

THE last time Marcus Bent played against his old club Crystal Palace he started with a standing ovation and ended by being booed remorselessly, writes Derek Davis.

THE last time Marcus Bent played against his old club Crystal Palace he started with a standing ovation and ended by being booed remorselessly, writes Derek Davis.

It did not help that he scored against The Eagles and was the victim of an attack which led to Neil Ruddock being sent off.

Bent was with Sheffield United at the time and going through a rich vein of scoring form, netting 15 in 32 games for the Blades that season, and how he would love a return of that sort of form and the confidence that goes with it.

He said: “This season is really doing my head in. I have just not played my best all season and then, when I looked to be getting back to something like myself, I get an injury again.

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“It is really annoying and frustrating and I can hear the fans screaming and shouting at me. I try to ignore it but I'm human and of course it gets to you. It is only a few and I can understand their frustration but believe me they are not alone, I feel it too.

“I'm strong mentally and will get through it and I know getting back in among the goals will help. All forwards thrive on confidence and I need to get mine back up there. It is about finding the right balance.”

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Bent had a terrific start to his Ipswich career, banging in nine goals in 25 games, all in the second half of the season, and although he only joined from Blackburn for £3m in November went on to be the club's top league scorer.

After criticism of his body language earlier this season he has worked hard on his game. It is ironic that just as he was showing his best form of the season with his strong hold-up play and incisive passing the 24-year-old Londoner fell foul to the dreaded hamstring curse.

He admitted to not being top notch on Saturday against Stoke and refused to use his enforced absence as an excuse.

He said: “I was looking to get straight back into it. I felt the hamstring, but I wanted to keep going and work as hard as I could. Nothing really came off for me, or the team and it was disappointing.”

Bent scored five goals in 28 games for Palace, who made a handsome profit when they sold him to Port Vale for £375,000 after shelling out just £150,000 to take him from Brentford a year earlier.

Many of his goals tend to be either spectacular or from long distance, and he may benefit from looking for the more simple tap-ins.

Either way Palace fans will be ready to give him stick tonight, especially after his last appearance.

He said: “They were brilliant to me. I played for them when we were in the Premiership and I had a really good time there.

“They gave me a standing ovation last time I went but booed and abused me when Neil Ruddock almost decapitated me with a karate kick of a tackle and got himself sent off.

“It turned out to be a good day for me, I played fairly well and scored so I was quite happy. Let us hope I can get another one against them. I'm really looking forward to going back.”

Even in this injury disrupted season, Bent has so far knocked in five goals in 21 league appearances. He has shown in the past he has the ability to go on good goalscoring runs and 11 goals from the remaining 11 games is not beyond him - even if it means starting with a few boos at Selhurst Park tonight.

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