A LITTLE over a decade since kissing Sheffield United goodbye, Marcus Bent yesterday returned intent on saving them from relegation.
The striker, whose season-long loan from Birmingham City was officially completed last night, goes straight into contention for a starting role against Norwich this weekend, with Micky Adams, the move's architect, convinced that absence has only made the heart grow stronger.
"It really is exciting," Bent said. "When I left here the first time I went out on to the pitch I felt quite sad.
"I'd moved away from London and this was the first place where I'd really felt at home. It touched me.
"A lot has changed. I've changed. But this has always been somewhere, because of that, which has been close to my heart."
Bramall Lane is familiar territory for Bent who made more than 50 appearances during a brief but prolific spell at United earlier in his career. Ten clubs and 62 goals later, he is back. And with unfinished business.
"This is a huge club that's shown it can get promoted," Bent, who played under Adams at Leicester, said.
"First things first, though, we need to get out of trouble.
"I've not come in as a 'Daddy' type figure but I've changed a lot as a person and a player.
"Sometimes you can see in the body language of the younger lads that they might need a bit of encouragement.
"Rather than think of myself, if I spot that then I can put an arm around them. They might not want it but the offer will be there.
"I've walked into a dressing room that is together, upbeat but of course with a few nerves around it. But we can get out of this. I know what hard work and determination can do."
It is exactly that combination of familiarity and unshakeable belief which endeared the former Blackburn, Ipswich and Everton marksman to United boss Adams.
With Darius Henderson still recovering from serious injury, United's attack has at times appeared desperately short of a physical presence.
Richard Cresswell, Ched Evans and Daniel Bogdanovic remain valuable options, but Bent provides the stature United have lacked since Henderson had surgery to repair a severed tendon.
Given their predicament towards the foot of the Championship table, time is definitely of the essence.
"Hopefully I'll be involved against Norwich," Bent said. "Throw me in. I can swim.
"I've not played for a while so I need to get match sharpness but I'm naturally fit."
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