Lambert says he does not want to sell Bent… but tells striker to fight his way into Villa side
22:01 GMT, 19 October 2012
Paul Lambert says he has no desire to sell Darren Bent and has urged England’s forgotten striker to force his way back into his team.
Aston Villa’s 24million record signing has been a substitute in the club’s last two Premier League games, giving rise to rumours that Bent will ask to leave in January.
Conspiracy theorists also wonder if Lambert is trying to marginalise Villa’s high earners, with Shay Given, Alan Hutton and Steven Warnock also out of favour.
He certainly looks happy: Darren Bent (centre) training with Aston Villa
Villa, who play Fulham at Craven Cottage, have made the worst start to a top-flight campaign for 25 years and won just one of their last 17 League games.
Lambert said: ‘I understand people are frustrated when they don’t play but you always get a chance again — it’s up to you to take it.
‘Everyone’s in the same boat. I don’t think anyone should have a guaranteed place.
No rift: Paul Lambert says he does not want to sell Bent
‘I’m sure he will bounce back. He won’t take this lying down. He’s missed only two games. It’s not a major worry for me.
‘I have to get results and I’ll pick a team that I think can get them.
‘I cannot stop people trying to get my players.
‘The only way to stop it is to answer the question when people ring. But I don’t see any reason for him not to be here.’
Villa owner Randy Lerner sold NFL side the Cleveland Browns for 650m this week but no change to the way he runs Villa is envisaged.
After spending more than 200m chasing Champions League qualification, Lerner wants Villa to be self-sustaining. But Lambert said he had been under no pressure to sell high earners.
‘Not once has either Paul Faulkner (chief executive) or the chairman said: “I need you to do x, y or z”. It’s up to me to make the decisions.’