Move over Marcus

MOVE over Marcus Stewart, David Johnson and Alex Mathie, Darren Bent is set to become the best striker at Ipswich Town in recent times.That is the assertion of Richard Naylor, once a decent forward himself, who also tips Bent for full international honours.

MOVE over Marcus Stewart, David Johnson and Alex Mathie, Darren Bent is set to become the best striker at Ipswich Town in recent times.

That is the assertion of Richard Naylor, once a decent forward himself, who also tips Bent for full international honours.

Naylor has been at Portman Road since moving down from Yorkshire as a young teenager and graduating from the Academy to make his debut in 1996.

Naylor, operating effectively as a centre-back these days, said: “Darren is one of the best I have played with and I have played at Ipswich for a long time with some decent players.


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“He is right up there with the likes of Alex Mathie, Marcus Stewart, David Johnson, and is getting better all the time.

“For his age he has everything and there is no reason why he won't go on and better those players.

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“Marcus scored a lot of goals in the Premiership but Darren has the potential to do the same and go on to be a full England international.”

Stewart hit 19 Premiership goals to finish the top English striker in the 2000/01 season but said at the time that he was destined to lose his place to the up-and-coming Bent.

His £3.25m transfer to Sunderland hastened that prediction and Bent has also gone on to win eight England Under-21 caps, scoring seven goals in nine games, all as a substitute.

Naylor, who has bagged 33 goals in his Town career, believes Bent has what it takes to eventually force his way into Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad, especially once he gets a full Premiership season under his belt.

He said: “He has pace and he has a knack of scoring goals. He is always in the right pace at the right time and attacks defenders and is positive.

“Darren is always liable to score goals and it makes such a difference when you have players like him and Shefki (Kuqi) up front.

“He scored two great goals against Burnley and his work rate is fantastic.”

Since first revealing his desire to stay at Town to the EADT, Bent has repeatedly made it clear he does not want to leave the Blues and expects to be scoring goals for them in the Premiership.

His Town team-mates are confident Bent will still be here knocking in the goals that they believe will get them promoted.

Naylor added: “Darren has no reason to leave. We are going to be up there challenging and hopefully if we can be promoted he will be with us in the Premier League and playing every week.

“We are in a better financial footing and don't have to accept offers for players. We want promotion and the only way you are going to do that is by keeping your best players.”

Naylor faces his home-town club Leeds United on Saturday, but while they will always be his boyhood club, his allegiance is totally with Ipswich Town now.

Especially as he is cautiously optimistic that Town can achieve the Premiership dream at the third attempt.

He said: “We are confident. Wigan are flying but we are only three points off them so it shows we are doing something right.”

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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