Darren's penalty blues

THE player shuffling away and looking in the opposite direction if Ipswich Town are awarded another penalty this season will be Darren Bent, writes Derek Davis.

THE player shuffling away and looking in the opposite direction if Ipswich Town are awarded another penalty this season will be Darren Bent, writes Derek Davis.

After ballooning his last effort over the bar against Brighton and having one saved against Norwich earlier in the season the usually lethal Bent is not stepping up to the spot again.

Bent goes to Gillingham this afternoon aiming to increase his goal tally from the current 16 mark, without penalties.

He said: "I'm aiming for 19 now and if I take my chances – and not take penalties – then I should reach that and go from there.

"I will leave them to Tommy Miller who would ordinarily take them but even if he is not then I would leave it for someone else.

"If I'm on for a hat-trick and it is not a close thing I may do, but if it was level or we were behind then no way. Marcus Bent or Matt Holland would be my bet if Tommy is not on and we get a penalty again, they are both confident players."

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Town will be without skipper Holland today and Bent admits the man who would have been making his 290th consecutive league start will be missed.

Bent added: "As skipper Matt gets everyone going so it will be different without him but hopefully we can get a result without him and he can fit straight back into a winning team next week."

Nor is he concerned about the shoddy state of the Priestfield Stadium in the garden of England. He added: "We can play on any surface. It is just about getting the ball down and passing and if we can do that we should get a result."

Bent bade farewell to his best mate this week and promptly assured Ipswich fans that he won't be joining Darren Ambrose at Newcastle United.

He said: "I'm delighted for him. He is a quality player so it was no surprise that a big club came in for him. It is lucky that Bobby Robson came in to get him because he is a such a good manager and is close to Ipswich.

"At the present time I would not want to join Newcastle, perhaps in the future but not now. Newcastle have six strikers at the moment so I don't think if I went there I would push on.

"For the moment my priority and focus and future is with Ipswich Town. I want to carry on learning my trade here and hopefully I will once again be playing in the Premiership with Ipswich Town."

The pair progressed through the academy, into the reserves – winning the league title last season, playing and scoring in Europe and winning an England Under-21 cap together. He said: "It is a big loss for me to lose Ambrose as we have been friends since we were 14.

"I had already played a few games for Ipswich before he broke through as well but it was good having him around even back then because we were mates and then he got in and took his chance when he came on at Arsenal and stayed in the squad.

"He will be a big loss to the team because he is a quality player. We did have a great understanding, it was instinct with him to know where I would be or where my runs would take me.

"Even when Darren was here we were working on more people playing those diagonal balls for me to run on to but it is less instinctive for others at the moment – but I'm sure it will come in time."

Just like taking penalties.

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