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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 31, 2008

Bentley gunning for Arsenal

David Bentley insists he will enjoy abuse from Arsenal fans when he faces his former club as a Tottenham Hotspur player - and he is counting down the days until his first derby showdown in October.

The 23-year-old winger is no stranger to jeers after England fans rounded on him for opting out of Under-21 duty, with a hostile reception predicted at the Emirates Stadium following his move to the club he supported as a boy.

Not only has Bentley been outspoken about his lack of opportunities under Arsene Wenger before leaving for Blackburn, he has now joined Arsenal's bitter rivals and wants to emulate Paul Gascoigne as the entertainer of White Hart Lane.

Gascoigne famously sank Arsenal in 1991 in a north London derby and Bentley, who played alongside his hero at Martin Keown's testimonial four years ago, is relishing his chance to do the same.

'I can't wait,' he said after being unveiled as Spurs' £17million signing. 'I've not been sleeping at the moment thinking about running out there. I've always wanted to play in a north London derby, it will brilliant.

'Hopefully they want to see characters. They don't always go just to watch the football, they'll come to abuse me. I'll get the banter but I'll enjoy that. You don't to have a boring life as a footballer.

'If you don't get a buzz off that's probably where you fail.

'There is nothing quite like running out for your country but it's probably going to be the best moment in my career, one of them anyway.'

Bentley and his friends idolised Gazza but the chance for a trial at Spurs never arose, and it was Wenger who polished Bentley's talent before he shone at Ewood Park as a right midfielder or support striker.

'You know how it works, life isn't perfect at the time. I played for the Arse, as you call it,' he added. 'That was a time in my career, a good time to grow up playing with a lot of talented kids.

'All the Tottenham boys who are my friends have Spurs tattoos and are mad fans. They kept telling me 'you've got to come to Tottenham' and I said 'I want to but they don't want me'. Now they do so my mates are buzzing now.'

Spurs have closed the gap with their spending since then and last season ended their nine-year trophy drought, which Bentley hopes is a sign that the two clubs will soon be competing at the same level.

He added: 'Hopefully it's looking that way but only time will tell. I want to be a part of that. Only time will tell and only performances on the football pitch will do that.'

Bentley is also hoping his efforts will put him in the frame for a regular England place and a chance to qualify for the World Cup after missing out on Euro 2008.

'We owe the country, don't we?' he said. 'It was not nice missing out on it and it would be nice to put that right.'

Meanwhile, head coach Juande Ramos is not giving special treatment to Dimitar Berbatov despite the striker wanting a move and chairman Daniel Levy being wary of the negative influence the Bulgaria international could have on the dressing room.

Ramos said: 'He is a Tottenham player and we are happy that he is here. As one of our players, of course we would expect him to line up (on the first day of the season).'

Spurs are still working on other transfer targets, with the priority being a striker to step in for Robbie Keane, and Berbatov if he leaves for Manchester United.

Russia forward Andrei Arshavin will accept a move to Spurs if a fee is agreed with Zenit St Petersburg, and despite positive sounds coming from his advisor the 27-year-old is understood to be just one on a list of possibilities sporting director Damien Comolli is working on with Levy.

Real Zaragoza striker Diego Milito is unlikely to be one of those players, according to the 29-year-old's agent. Fernando Hidalgo told Diario Equipo.'Tottenham was an option until today, but they are not anymore.'

Meanwhile, Derby goalkeeper Stephen Bywater is set to join Spurs as deputy for Heurelho Gomes.

Rams boss Paul Jewell told the Derby Evening Telegraph: 'Tottenham came in with a bid for Stephen and the player is very keen to go, which is fully understandable.

'I would like to have kept him but it is a move which appeals to him and we wish him well.'

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