Injury blow for Bent

DAZZLING Darren Bent is out of England's clash with Azerbaijan this afternoon but hopes to be fit to face Burnley on Saturday, writes Derek Davis.Ipswich Town's Welsh keeper Lewis Price has also picked up a knock but he will start against Poland.

DAZZLING Darren Bent is out of England's clash with Azerbaijan this afternoon but hopes to be fit to face Burnley on Saturday, writes Derek Davis.

Ipswich Town's Welsh keeper Lewis Price has also picked up a knock but he will start against Poland.

Blues striker Bent would have made his first start for the Under-21s after scoring seven goals in seven substitute appearances, but a hamstring injury has curtailed his chances.

The 20-year-old missed training yesterday and even a session in the swimming pool and with physiotherapists has failed to ease the problem.


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Bent last night told the EADT: "Things have been going really well for me but this is a big blow. My hamstring is really tight and has not got any better so I'm sure I won't be playing."

The Town hit-man, who has started in every game this season and scored three goals for Ipswich, is desperate to be fit to face Burnley and his old team-mate John McGreal on Saturday at Portman Road.

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He said: "I should be alright. Peter Taylor did not want to use me against Azerbaijan and not let the hamstring get better so he is not playing me as a precaution so that I will be fit for Saturday and what is a very important game for us against Burnley."

Bent has scored in every one of England's three qualifying games so far and would love to be playing in the European Championships next summer.

Victory over Azerbaijan would maintain their 100% record and give England a brilliant chance of qualification.

Bent said: "Hopefully the lads can go out and get a result to keep us on track and that would be doing me a great favour and make up a little for not playing."

One of those goals came against his Ipswich Town team-mate Price last Friday when he netted the second England goal at Ewood Park.

Price also took a blow to a knee that night, which has developed some puffiness and has restricted his training over the past couple of days.

But he has been given the nod to play and the 20-year-old is looking to keep his third clean sheet in four internationals when Wales Under-21s entertain Poland in Swansea tonight.

Price said: "The knee is a bit sore but I'm fine to play. I banged it when James Milner scored and thought I may have to come off but it got better through the game.

"I want to play and I'm looking to keep a clean sheet. If I do that then we will have won at least a point."

While a point would do, Wales are aiming for three, and have accepted finishing behind England would do.

Price said: "We need three points, that would give us six in three games, which is not too bad. After playing England on Friday we know even more so now just what a powerful team they are in this group and we fully expect them to win it.

"Finishing second behind England would do as that means we will have qualified for the Championships too. It also means I get another crack at stopping Benty. We have the game in Wales next March and then hopefully the Finals."

Price will be back at Portman Road on Thursday unsure if he will keep his place in the Ipswich goal with Kelvin Davis making good progress from a strained ligament in his back.

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