x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Bent's cap search goes on

Sunderland's in-form striker will keep trying to impress the national coach Fabio Capello after again being left out of the England squad.

Darren Bent will keep trying to impress the national coach Fabio Capello after again being left out of the England squad. Capello saw the Sunderland striker score an excellent goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday but opted for Gabriel Agbonlahor, Peter Crouch and Carlton Cole up front for England's final World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine and Belarus.

Bent is the leading home-grown goalscorer in the Premier League. The 25-year-old told the Sunderland Echo: "I've given a good account of myself on Saturday but I've been knocking them in all season and have yet to get a call-up. "I just have to keep knocking on the door with my performances for Sunderland. I'll just have to keep banging them in. "I'm in good form, my confidence is high and I feel I can score goals at any level. This won't knock my confidence."

There was disappointment for the United goalkeeper Ben Foster, who was ruled out of the England games through injury. The FA did not specify what the problem was. Meanwhile, England's qualifier against Ukraine on Saturday will only be available to viewers on the internet or in cinemas. The clash failed to attract a TV company, rights holder Kentaro said yesterday. Fans who subscribe in advance will be charged US$8 (Dh29) to view the match.

"Over 20 million people in the UK regularly use the internet to watch sport," Philipp Grothe, chief executive of Kentaro Group said. "The mainstream adoption of broadband and the growing popularity of online viewing is now a realistic alternative to old-fashioned TV broadcasting." He said Kentaro had also struck a deal to show the match across the country in cinemas. Elsewhere, the Sevilla winger Jesus Navas is eyeing a call-up to Vicente del Bosque's Spain squad for the World Cup after his match-winning performance against Real Madrid on Sunday.

The 23-year-old has not played for his national side as he suffers from anxiety attacks and homesickness. He said: "Going to the World Cup and being able to enjoy playing for the national team would be the best. But right now I am focusing on being relaxed." Inter Milan defender Lucio has pulled out of Brazil's final qualifiers against Bolivia and Venezuela with a muscle strain.

Brazil, like England and Spain, have already qualified for the finals. Lucio's Inter teammate Diego Milito will miss Argentina's matches against Peru and Paraguay after injuring his thigh. The striker's absence will be a blow to Diego Maradona's side, who are struggling to qualify. New Zealand assistant coach Brian Turner is confident captain Ryan Nelsen will be fit for the crucial first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off against Bahrain on Saturday.

Nelsen missed Blackburn's 6-2 defeat by Arsenal in the Premier League with a back injury, but Turner said: "Our physio spoke to Ryan ... and we're confident he'll be right to play against Bahrain." New Zealand will prepare for the game in Dubai this week before heading to Manama. Japan plans to bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups despite Tokyo's failure to win the right to stage the 2016 Olympics.

A Japan Football Association official said yesterday that there were no plans to pull out of the running for the tournaments. The winning bids for both finals will be announced in December next year. * With agencies