Bent aiming to time his Euros run to perfection

Injured Villa striker believes he can recover but defender Smalling is forced to admit defeat

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The Independent Football

Darren Bent has told Roy Hodgson's medical staff that he believes he can be fit in time to play in England's two warm-up games against Norway on 26 May and Belgium one week later to give himself the chance of making the Euro 2012 squad.

The Aston Villa striker has had two visits in the last week from Hodgson's head physiotherapist, Gary Lewin, who has been assessing the fitness of Bent, who has not played since 25 February. He had surgery on ankle ligaments nine days after the game against Wigan Athletic in which he sustained the injury.

He had previously been thought to be out of the European Championship but his recovery now offers the new England manager the outside possibility that he could be available – albeit without having played a competitive game since the end of February. He would represent a major risk for a manager who has a wide range of strikers.

Hodgson has Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Peter Crouch, Daniel Sturridge, Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll, among others, at his disposal. The orthodox approach would be to take four strikers, with Theo Walcott possibly going as one of the eight midfielders but, with Rooney suspended for the first two games, Hodgson could be persuaded to take five.

Scott Parker is the latest injury concern for Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad but the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder is expected to be fit for England even if he does not recover in time to play for his club in their final game of the season against Fulham tomorrow.

Named captain by Stuart Pearce for the friendly against the Netherlands on 29 February, Parker is struggling with an achilles problem that has seen him miss recent games against Bolton, Blackburn and Norwich City. It has become a worry for the player, now an established first-team member of the England side.

Harry Redknapp said yesterday that Parker was a doubt for the Fulham game and that he would need painkilling injections in order to play.

"He [Parker] is struggling with fitness," Redknapp said. "It is not a rupture but it is sore. He is not going to train and we are going to see how he is and whether he could be availablefor the weekend."

"[But] it is bothering him at the moment," admitted the Tottenham manager. "After Sunday he will have some injections in it and see if that can clear it up. He's been carrying it a few weeks. The specialist thinks it will clear up but it will need 10 days' rest afterwards. We are hoping it will be OK."

Yesterday brought news of the withdrawal of Manchester United's Chris Smalling from the Euro 2012 reckoning with a groin injury aggravated in the 2-0 win over Swansea City last Sunday. Sir Alex Ferguson said that the defender, who was signed by Hodgson during his time at Fulham, was just about to come off when Rio Ferdinand got injured and had to be withdrawn instead.

Ferguson said: "We tried to take him off but then Rio got a knock and Chris thought he could stay on. Now he is going to miss the European Championship with a torn groin muscle. We are assessing what to do with it at the moment but it is a bad injury."

Walking wounded: England's Euro sick list


Michael Dawson (Spurs) ankle

Jack Rodwell (Everton) hamstring

Chris Smalling (Man United) groin

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) ankle


Darren Bent (Aston Villa) ankle injured but should be fit

Gary Cahill (Chelsea) hamstring

Theo Walcott (Arsenal) hamstring

Danny Welbeck (Man United) ankle


Wayne Rooney (Man United)

[misses opening two games]