England look to Bent to see off Swiss

MANCHESTER - Darren Bent is poised to spearhead England's attack in Saturday's Euro 2012 tie at home to Switzerland with three goals in three internationals making him the ideal tonic for a depleted strikeforce.

With Wayne Rooney suspended and Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll injured, Bent is likely to be the first striker on manager Fabio Capello's teamsheet for the match at Wembley as the Italian looks to keep his side top of Group G qualifying.

"It's a massive game for me because I want to play for England as many times as I can and try and establish myself as the number nine," Bent told a news conference on Wednesday.

He has been in great form since moving to Aston Villa from Sunderland in January, scoring nine goals in 16 games.

One of the best finishers in the country, he notched 17 Premier League goals this season and Villa and England team-mate Stewart Downing believed Bent would be a certain starter on Saturday.

"It will be quite hard for England to leave him out because he's a goal-a-game man," said winger Downing.

"He's always in the right position to score goals - and those people are priceless."

The 27-year-old Bent has already scored against Switzerland in this qualifying campaign, grabbing the third in September's 3-1 win in Basel before goals in February's friendly against Denmark and the March qualifier against Wales made it three goals in his last three internationals.

He said his move to Villa, which he added was backed by Capello, was paying off despite many people questioning it at the time.

"It's worked out really, really well," he said. "Fabio keeps picking me so as long as he keeps doing that I must be doing something right," said Bent.

With attention on Switzerland for different reasons of late as the crisis at football's governing body FIFA has been unfolding at its Zurich headquarters, Euro 2012 matches have not been getting as much media attention as they might usually.

But the players are aware of how important the game is as England are level on points with Montenegro at the top of Group G with 10 points from four matches and will not want to slip up.

Switzerland, third with four points, have their own forward options to consider following experienced strikers Alexander Frei and Marco Streller's recent international retirement.

Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld may thrust 22-year-old Innocent Emeghara and 20-year-old Admir Mehmedi into action, telling uefa.com: "We are lacking strikers aged around 25 or 26 so I had to call up really young ones to fill the gap".

Bulgaria (four points) and Wales (zero) are the other teams in the qualifying group for next year's tournament in Poland and Ukraine.