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By ESPN Staff

Bent signs contract extension at Charlton

Striker Darren Bent has signed a new four-year contract at Charlton.

The 22-year-old was the leading English scorer in the Premiership last season with 18 goals in the league and 22 in total following his move from Championship club Ipswich.

Bent, who was unfortunate not to be selected for England's World Cup squad, had been the subject of intense speculation after being linked with the likes of Newcastle but he will start next season at The Valley where he will partner new signing Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Bent told the club's website: 'I am delighted to bring to an end all the press speculation about my future.

'(Chairman) Richard Murray knows I am committed to this club and although I am flattered to be linked with the biggest clubs in the country I owe Charlton a lot after they gave me my chance in the Premiership and the fans have been right behind me since I joined.

'I have also been hugely impressed with our new manager Iain Dowie and his ideas as well as Les Reed and Mark Robson.

'I have a good feeling about this season and if I can match what I achieved last season I will be delighted.'

The Cambridge-born striker was picked by former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson for the friendly against Uruguay and was expected to play a part in Germany.

However, he was overlooked - failing to be chosen as one of the standby players - but he will be looking to impress new manager Steve McClaren and force his way into the reckoning with Michael Owen ruled out for the entire season.

Now Bent will vie with the likes of Jermain Defoe and Andy Johnson to become an integral part of the Euro 2008 qualification campaign.

Dowie was delighted to have secured Bent's services, explaining the young striker is integral to his plans.

Dowie said: 'This is fantastic news for the club and I think the chairman is to be congratulated on securing Darren's signature for the next four years.

'I want to build a young, exciting team at Charlton around individuals like Darren who have a great desire to play for the club and are desperate to learn, to develop their game and to achieve success with the club.'

Charlton launch their Premiership season with a trip to the East End to take on West Ham before hosting Manchester United in their first home game.