Dazzling Darrens get England call-up

DAZZLING Darren duo Bent and Ambrose have won their first call- up to the England Under-21 squad for the trip to Italy on Tuesday.

DAZZLING Darren duo Bent and Ambrose have won their first call- up to the England Under-21 squad for the trip to Italy tomorrow, writes Derek Davis.

Their outstanding partnership prompted a thrilling win after Ipswich were down to 10 men and two goals behind at Portman Road.

But their recent good performances while coming off the bench have helped as U-21 manager David Platt and his scouts have kept close tabs on the pair.

While Bent, 19 last Thursday, has played for England at virtually every level, this is his first call up to the U-21s, one step away from the full senior side. Ambrose, 19 at the end of this month, was invited to join Platt's U-21 squad for a training camp recently and knows many of the current party.

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He said: "I'm on such a high after winning the way we did and then get told I was in the squad, it is incredible. Hopefully I will finally get a cap, I have been called into almost every squad without getting the chance to play so perhaps I can make my debut in Italy, that would be wonderful.

"Just being with the squad is a great experience, they are a good bunch of lads and, of course, I have got Benty with me as well."

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Bent added: "Having played, and scored at most levels, it is brilliant to step up into the Under-21s. Hopefully I will be involved. It has been some birthday week for me; scoring, getting selected, but it has been so hectic we have not had a chance to celebrate at all."

Bent nabbed the first and third goal in Town's win over Sheffield United, one presented to him by Ambrose. He said: "Darren told me he was going to get me a present and that was it, a great cross which I nodded in.

"The first goal was great with Jamma [Jermaine Wright] putting a great ball in for me. We knew once we scored one we could get back in it and that is what happened.

"It was a really enjoyable game, the fans never stopped singing and they really helped us."

Not knowing what to buy the mate who has everything, Ambrose chose to set him up with the third goal after good work from Marcus Bent had won the ball for him.

Ambrose said: "I did not buy him a present but hopefully this has made up for it. I saved it for the game and gave him the cross for him to score."

"I doubt I will catch him (in the scoring charts) now, he will be pulling away but if I can, I'll keep up with him to a point.

"Hopefully I can keep my starting place. I won't complain if the manager doesn't start me though."

The third goal brought the crowd to a crescendo in what was already a thumping atmosphere and to stage such an amazing comeback has confidence coursing through the veins of the players.

Ambrose said: "We were jumping around as if we had won the cup final but that is probably because the fans made it like a cup final, they were fantastic.

"It wasn't easy losing Pablo because you have to raise you game by an extra 10% when someone is sent off.

"But we showed plenty of spirit. To come back from two-nil, never mind one-nil was terrific.

"Maybe because I'm young I really believed we could come back. It is just a case of three chances and that can happen in a minute.

"It is one of the best games I have played in, better than the comeback at Sheffield in the FA Cup because we won this one. I was really pleased for the supporters for the way they got behind us."

The England squad arrive in Italy today for tomorrow night's game at the Stadio dei Marmi in small Tuscan city of Carrara tucked below the Upuan Alps.

Manager David Platt said: "This friendly gives me a good opportunity to take a close look at some of the players who have been performing consistently well recently and how they integrate into the squad.

"Darren Bent, Darren Ambrose, Lee Grant and Kevin Nolan, have all proved themselves at international level at lower age levels."

England Under-21 squad: Ambrose, Bent (Ipswich Town) Grant (Derby) Murray, Lescott (Wolves) Taylor (Portsmouth) Samuel, Barry (Aston Villa) Clarke (Everton) Dawson (Nottingham Forest) McEveley (Blackburn) Carrick, Defoe (West Ham) Wright-Phillips (Manchester City) Ameobi (Newcastle) Zamora ( Brighton) Nolan (Bolton) Prutton (Southampton) Pennant (Arsenal).

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