Bent aims to be Premier League's top scorer

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Darren Bent has not given up hope of finishing his first season at Sunderland as the Barclays Premier League's top scorer.

The 26-year-old has been a major hit on Wearside since his £10million summer escape from Tottenham, and has repaid manager Steve Bruce for his investment with 23 goals to date, 22 of them in the league. That has left him trailing Manchester United and England's Wayne Rooney by just four and Chelsea's Didier Drogba by three.

But while his presence in that kind of company could be regarded as reward enough, Bent is determined to push two of the country's most prolific marksman all the way. Bent said: "The one thing that disappointed me about last weekend was the missed penalties because if I had scored them, I would have been right in the mix with Rooney and Drogba."

He added: "But I was happy to get two goals in a great win for us and it is definitely still a motivation for me to finish as the top scorer.

"If you can do that in this league, then you have made your mark. If it doesn't happen, then it wasn't meant to be. There are only five games left for me to get enough goals, but as long as I keep going, then I will give it a go.

"We have some winnable games, we are in form and the way the team is creating chances, I feel I can score in every game."

Bent hopes reaching top spot could keep alive his hopes of joining Rooney in the England squad at this summer's World Cup finals.

He will get his next chance at West Ham on Saturday as Sunderland attempt to build up their improved run of form - they have lost just one of their last seven games and are all but mathematically safe - and deepen the Hammers' woes.

Bent told the Sunderland Echo: "We have been coming flying out of the blocks in the last few games and we have to make sure we do that on Saturday.

"West Ham will look to do the same. I saw their draw at Everton last weekend and they obviously have a lot of spirit. But their crowd can turn very quickly, so if we can start well and hopefully get in front, we can make it difficult."

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