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Lambert still rates Bent despite exclusion

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert insisted he has no issue with striker Darren Bent despite again leaving the club's record signing out of the squad against Reading on Tuesday.

With the £18 million signing not even on the bench at Villa Park, summer acquisition Christian Benteke capped off a man-of-the-match performance by scoring the only goal of the 1-0 win that moves Villa out of the bottom three.

Bent has not started a game for Villa in more than a month, and has not scored since September. With young striker Jordan Bowery on the bench on Tuesday in Bent's stead, Lambert was moved to once again deny a rift between himself and the former Sunderland forward and insist he still has a future at the club.

"I do rate Darren but I pick a team I always think will win," Lambert said. "I've got 25 guys to look after.

"The most important thing is this club and I'll always make decisions I think are right for this club.

"I'll live and die by them. That's the nature of the beast. I'll always make an honest judgement on who I think should play but I have no problem with Darren, absolutely none.

"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.

"I do rate him as a player. I've no problem with his attitude in training, none whatsoever."

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