To his considerable credit, Darren Bent has never really bought into the modern footballer's method of dealing with the media. Asked a question, the Aston Villa and England striker's instinct remains to tell the unvarnished truth, and his reaction to the club's close-season selling of both Ashley Young and Stewart Downing is a case in point.
"I just kept texting Ash 'One More Year' for weeks and weeks," said Bent, talking at the club's unveiling of their new shirt sponsor Genting this week. "I was in his ear every day, texting him every day, and when we were away with England I was on his case all the time.
"But at the same time, I fully understand. It's Manchester United at the end of the day, the biggest team in the world, so I wish him good luck and hope he does really well.
"Any striker needs good service at the end of the day, and Stewie and Ash give you probably the best service in the division. But we've got Marc Albrighton, Stevie Warnock, who has been brought back into the fray and putting crosses in left, right and centre – he's been like another new signing – and then there's Stephen Ireland and Jean Makoun.
"[Ireland] has had a difficult past couple of years but he's already shown in training since he's been back how good a player he is, so we've got players to cover those areas, and hopefully the gaffer can add one or two and we should be fine and have a good season."
Bent's acknowledgement that the squad needs further strengthening adds to the importance being attached by many Villa fans to the club's continued pursuit of Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia.
"He's a top-quality player who is always getting linked to top clubs, if we can get him down here that will be tremendous for myself in terms of being a striker and getting service and also for Aston Villa," said Bent.
N'Zogbia's arrival may be as important for Bent as his international ambitions as it is for Villa's chances of avoiding another relegation fight next season.
With three goals in his last three appearances for England, Bent appears to have established himself in Fabio Capello's plans for next summer's European Championships, although once again, the 27-year-old does not try to hide the disappointment he continues to feel about not being part of the Italian's World Cup squad last year.
"It's always going to grate with me until the day I die that I didn't get to go to that World Cup, but that's in the past now and there's no point in me really looking back again," he said.
"I don't think anything can make up for missing out on a World Cup – it's probably the biggest sporting event on the planet. Nothing, I don't think, will ever make up for that. But to play in the Euros would be absolutely fantastic and if I'm still about I'll hopefully play in the next World Cup too. But my immediate goal is to do well for Aston Villa, retain my place in the team and score a lot of goals and it will be a big bonus if Fabio picks me in his squad for the Euros."
Reaching the 20 goals in all competitions he is targeting for this season would certainly help his chances of doing that. So too however might the mental strength which comes from having more experience.
Asked about missing an open goal for England in last month's draw against Switzerland at Wembley, Bent shrugged.
"It happens. It was disappointing for myself to miss that because I would back myself 10 times out of 10 to score it. But I think this is where I've grown as a player over the years – there might have been times where I would have probably sat and thought about it for weeks and weeks. Now I just try to put it out of my head and get on with it and the next game, when the next chance comes, I'll take it."Reuse content