Bent loses captaincy
Paul Lambert believes demoting Darren Bent from the Aston Villa captaincy will help him find his goalscoring form and return to the England ranks.
Aston Villa manager Lambert has decided to the captain's armband to Dutch defender Ron Vlaar to allow Bent to concentrate solely on getting back the scoring touch which he needs to be part of Roy Hodgson's World Cup plans - as well as help his club up the Premier League table.
Bent spoke recently of how determined he is to make it "impossible to be ignored" by Hodgson as he looks to end a miserable sequence of missing the last four major tournaments with England.
The striker has yet to register a Premier League goal this season and is running out of time to be part of Hodgson's plans for the next round of World Cup qualifiers in October, but Lambert feels taking away the extra burden of captaining the side will help.
Bent, who missed the end of last season through injury, last scored a Premier League goal in a 2-2 draw at home to Queens Park Rangers on February 1.
"In terms of my decision on the captaincy, I just wanted to give Darren a break. I just want him to concentrate on goals," said Lambert. "He has been excellent against Newcastle and Swansea in our last couple of games and has looked sharp.
"He is playing well, but I think changing it will help him. It will let him just concentrate on scoring goals for the team."
The move has the double impact of allowing Vlaar to impose his giant personality and power on the side, following his arrival from Feyenoord in the summer.
Lambert believes the centre-back will grow into the role and could develop into a Holte End icon in the same way as Martin Laursen.
"Ron is amazing," Lambert added. "He is colossal and has been since he came here. He has been excellent for us.
"He is not a young kid. He is not 21. He has been at a huge football club himself and I just think he is a top player."