Darren Bent has revealed how kind words from new England boss Roy Hodgson have helped him deal with his Euro 2012 heartache and given him encouragement for next season with Villa.
Bent missed out on a major international tournament for the third time when he failed to make Hodgson’s squad for Poland and Ukraine a week ago because of his ankle troubles.
But Villa’s record signing insists a pep talk from the Three Lions manager has left him in a positive frame of mind despite the initial disappointment denting his recovery work.
Bent is making good progress with the ligament problem he had surgery on in February and should be fully fit to report back to pre-season with Villa’s new boss.
“Roy rang me and told me he couldn’t pick me because I hadn’t played any games and he couldn’t take the chance of taking me to a tournament,” said Bent.
“As far as phonecalls go, I have had three to tell me I haven’t made it to a major tournament. Out of all of them, Roy’s was the best. He was understanding and really good with me on the phone.
“He said to me that I would be part of the qualifiers. My aim is to perform well for Aston Villa, first and foremost and then hopefully I will be picked for England too.
“Training the next day after I found out was hard. The fitness guy even told me I looked a bit demotivated. It was hard to take initially, but now it’s about bouncing back and moving on.”
Bent will be closely watching England’s Euro 2012 campaign even though he is not involved.
“England have a massive chance,” he said. “It’s a strong group of players. We beat Spain, we had a good result against Sweden as well. There’s no reason why we can’t compete well for this tournament.”