Lambert defends decision to leave out Bent
Paul Lambert again defended his decision to exclude Aston Villa's record signing Darren Bent from his matchday plans as his side gained a crucial 1-0 home win over Reading.
A late header from Christian Benteke, who has replaced Bent as the number one striker, moved Villa out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone. But there was no place again for £18million signing Bent even amongst the substitutes with rookie striker Jordan Bowery preferred.
Lambert denied there was any fallout with Bent or that the striker had left the stadium before kick-off after his exclusion from his plans. Lambert said: "Darren was in the squad, it was the same on Saturday. I just picked the same group. I do what I think is best for Aston Villa."
The manager added: "But honestly, I don't have a problem with Darren Bent and I do rate him as a player. I've no problem with his attitude in training, none whatsoever.
"Did he storm off? No, not a thing. I would tell you. I thought he was fine. I read the team out. The most important thing is Aston Villa. Will I listen to offers in January? Honestly my main concern is winning games for this club, nothing else.
"Can Bent play again for us Yes, never rule anything out. But I pick a team to win, I never pick one I think will lose."
Lambert is aware of the significance of Villa's third win of the season, saying: "It was a big result because we knew the Arsenal game at the weekend would take a lot out of us. Reading had also played well against Wigan so knew it would be a tough game. But I don't know about it being a six-pointer. Never look at things now, look in May."
Reading boss Brian McDermott was left to bemoan his side's defending when Benteke headed home an Ashley Westwood corner 10 minutes from time. It was another late and crucial goal conceded by the Royals who lost 3-2 at Wigan.
He said: "I thought we were going to get a point. I knew the first goal was going to be crucial. I thought the shape of the team was good but to lose the goal from a set piece was disappointing.
"I thought we had solved the late goal problem. But it's not a six-pointer. It's a game of football and we've got a game of football to look forward to against Manchester United at the weekend."