Lambert delighted with Bent form
Paul Lambert insists he's delighted to have Darren Bent back and firing after the striker set Aston Villa on the way to FA Cup victory against Ipswich on Saturday.
Bent and Lambert have been at loggerheads for much of the season, with the England international on the sidelines for lengthy spells although his club share the tag as the Premier League's lowest scorers with rock-bottom QPR.
But his return from the injury he has had for almost a month was marked by a characteristic equaliser against one of his former clubs and Andi Weimann's late winner made sure Villa Park became a happier place again following the horrors of the festive programme.
Lambert spoke optimistically of the availability again of Bent, Charles N'Zogbia and Gabby Agbonlahor providing a better mix and said: "I think the more you can keep it that way, the better.
"I think we've been unfortunate that the ones who have been injured are the experienced lads. There is experience there and if you can get them out there, and performing, then you see what happens.
"You have to give them credit because they only trained the day before for the first time in quite a while. I thought they all performed excellently.
"You are nowhere near match fitness with just that and probably the only way to get that fitness is to throw them in as quickly as we did. It wasn't a risk. They were fit. It's just their match fitness that wasn't there."
Bent has now scored four times this season in 14 appearances, five of those outings having come from the substitutes' bench.
So how likely is he to be available this month if the right offer comes in? Will this Cup-tying contribution put an end to the speculation?
"I never listen to it," Lambert added. "I just do my job and I'll be the one who decides what. I just concentrate on making this club a success.
"It's exactly the same as it was at the beginning. Darren's a natural finisher. Everyone knows that. People outside of Britain know what kind of striker he is.
"Christian Benteke has played unbelievable football for us. And the system we have been playing.....we have only been playing one up front at some times.
"But you have to give Darren credit for the way he performed. You have to adjust to certain situations and I don't think you can just set it in stone with what way we are going to play.
"You try to make people adaptable because different scenarios arise in games. Darren's just been unfortunate with his injury against Norwich (in the 4-1 Capital One Cup quarter-final victory) because he looked sharp in that spell he was on. But the form of Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann has been really high.
"You need the whole squad. I never view anybody more important than anyone else. It's everybody in together. And that's the only way you have success. With everyone pulling in the same direction, you have a better chance of doing something. The team performance here was what pleased me. "Andreas is full of confidence and the way he conducts himself on the pitch and in training is excellent. He looks like he is really on top of his game at the minute. It was a top-class header. Both goals were great.
"And Jordan Bowery was exceptional. Excellent. He was played in a position that was a little alien to him (wide left) but every time he got the ball he gave everybody a lift with the way he performed.
He will be a right good player. He got himself in some good positions and he was unlucky with a couple of chances where the goalkeeper made a great save with one of them. I was really happy with the way Jordan played."