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Darren Bent: 'crappy couple of weeks'

By Graham Hill



Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert last week made it clear that he would be picking his team based on form, not on a player’s transfer fee. And he backed those words up just two days later when he dropped £24million striker Darren Bent.

If it was meant to kick-start Bent’s season, then it may have had an effect. Bent came on as a second half substitute against West Bromwich Albion and scored the goal that earned Villa a point. But the former Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland player was clearly unhappy with the turn of events.

It was the latest blow for Bent, who only joined Villa 21 months ago but has already played under three managers.

The latest of those, Lambert, had made Bent the captain of Villa because of the absence of club skipper Stilian Petrov who is undergoing treatment for acute Leukaemia.

But Bent had the armband taken off him before the recent home win over Swansea and he was replaced by Holland defender Ron Vlaar.

At the time, Lambert said the decision was made so that Bent could concentrate on scoring goals. And Bent got off the mark at Southampton, only for Villa to lose 4-1.

Lambert decided that result meant a shake up the following week and Bent did not make the starting line up against Albion. But when Bent scored, he appeared to make a point to the Villa bench. And his frustrations were there to see after the game. Now Bent says he will seek talks with Lambert to find out the manager's reasoning.

Bent said: “It was nice to get started against Southampton last week. But I felt a bit disappointed that I didn’t start the game against West Brom. It’s been a crappy couple of weeks for me, finding out I was no longer captain. Then again to find out before the game that I wasn’t playing. It was disappointing.

“I can’t remember the last time I was left out of a side. I only found out when the gaffer read the team sheet out. It’s frustrating and disappointing. All I can do is keep coming on and scoring goals, and take it from there.”

Bent had felt he was returning to form - which meant his omission was harder to take. He added: “My confidence is back after getting the goal against Southampton. That was a massive boost. I took a knock, but at the same time I tried to get back on to the pitch and work as hard as I could for the team to try to get them back into the game.”

Bent explained that no reason was given to him by Lambert as to why he did not start the game. He added: “I’ve not spoken to him at all about why he left me out. We’ll probably speak this week. Yes, maybe it was a kick up the backside. Strikers are always judged on scoring goals. After getting the one last week,  I thought that would build me up for the West Brom game but it just wasn’t to be.”

Despite his annoyance, Bent believes he can now go on and score the goals that Lambert is looking for. Bent said: “Hopefully, I’m always a confident character. If I get the chance I’ll score the goals. I  got one when I came on and I hope I can build on that.”

Bent also hopes his form will be good enough to regain his place in the England team. Coach Roy Hodgson was in the stands at Villa Park ahead of the World Cup qualifying games against San Marino and Poland.

Bent added: “It’s not been a great period for me. But I didn’t know Roy Hodgson was there until someone told me after the game. If he was there then hopefully that goal will give me a boost and maybe I’ll be in his plans. I’m going in the right direction as far as goals go. It was good to get on the pitch and show I am a goalscorer. I can score goals if given the chances.”