KENWYNE Jones is delighted to see Darren Bent back in the England squad as he praised the striker for the way he has looked to build a partnership at Sunderland.
Jones never gelled with Djibril Cissé last season and the pair rarely spoke off the pitch as dressing room divisions undermined the Black Cats’ battle against relegation.
But it has been completely different with Bent, whose easy-going personality sits well with Jones’ own relaxed persona and the Trinidad and Tobago international is happy to have helped his strike partner regain international recognition. Bent has undoubtedly benefited from playing alongside a centre-forward as strong and powerful as the aerially dominant Jones, who in turn fully appreciates having someone alongside him who thrives on trying to feed off flick-ons and knock-downs.
“Darren Bent’s call-up is fully deserved, of course it is,” said Jones, who still has another two games to sit out following his sending-off against West Ham a fortnight ago. “You can’t argue with the goals he has scored and how well he has done at Sunderland since he came here in the summer.
“I don’t know whether the media have put the England manager under pressure to recall him, but it is the right decision. I hope he does well because I think he deserves it. Hopefully he will be able to stake a claim before the squad is picked for the World Cup. Everyone gets on in the club and that is my relationship with Darren. We hang out together every day more or less, whether it’s in the dressing room or out on the pitch.
“We do stuff together outside of football as well and I think that helps the team as a whole.”
Jones has been impressed with all of Steve Bruce’s summer signings, but as it is Bent who lines up alongside him in attack, it is his performances which have the greatest impact on him. It has been said that good strikers are naturally selfish, although Jones gives a different impression.
He said: “When he came here we gelled pretty quickly. It happened in pre-season.
“Thankfully it’s been the same with the other players who have come in this season.
“You can see the results of that on the pitch.
“I think he is enjoying playing on the shoulder of the last defender again and it’s nice to have someone who can feed off what I do in terms of holding the ball up and winning headers.
“Everything he does helps the team and everything I do helps the team. If I’m able to put him in through a flick-on, I’m happy to do that. We work knowing that whoever scores, whether it’s me or him, it doesn’t matter because the team benefits either way. I have a good feeling about the partnership.”
Bent’s decision to sign for Sunderland in the summer, along with the arrival of players like Lee Cattermole and Michael Turner, who also left rival top-flight sides – Wigan and Hull City respectively – to move to the Stadium of Light, is testimony to the club’s improved standing.
And, with a good start to the season behind them which has put them in eighth place in the Premier League with 12 games played, Jones feels perceptions of the club are finally changing.
He added: “The start to the season for us has been great. There is definitely a different attitude towards games and within the dressing room and the club is moving forward.
“Hopefully we will be able to take that with us for the rest of the season and try to finish as high as possible.
“I think perceptions of Sunderland have changed.
“The way we have started to play this year, and the way we have started the season in terms of points, is obviously going to change the way people look at us and that is a good thing.
“Your ambitions all depend on the way you start the season. This is just a start, but I think we knew after five games that things were going well.
“I wouldn’t sit here and say, yes, we are going for Europe, but at the same time we want to do as well as we can with this group and we shall see what happens.”