Lambert defends decision to leave Bent off the bench as Benteke earns him victory
23:54 GMT, 27 November 2012
Good work: Gabriel Agbonlahor congratulates Christian Benteke after his goal
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 think is best for Aston Villa.
'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.
Rise and fall: Benteke leaps above the defender to break the deadlock
He said: '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.'
Gabriel Agbonlahor is pleased to see strike partner Benteke becoming a hit with the Villa fans.
Agbonlahor, captain for the night, told Sky Sports 2: 'You can tell by the fans' reaction how much they've taken to him.
'He's still only 21 but he doing great for us. He's helped us with the goal tonight and all credit to him.'
header was a rare highlight in an uninspiring 90 minutes but Agbonlahor
said: 'It was a scrappy game but we'll take the three points and move
Kept in reserve: Darren Bent was not even on the subs bench
That feeling was
shared by midfielder Barry Bannan, who said: 'There's less expectation
against the big clubs and it was hard to come out tonight and win the
game but we dug in and got the three points.
'It's massive. We need to win games
and it's big relief for us. There's been a lot of people talking about
us being in the bottom three and it's hard to take.
got to keep doing what we're doing and hopefully it's good enough.
We've got a great team spirit here, we're all young lads and we're
learning every day.'