Lambert denies rift with Bent
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has denied reports he and star striker Darren Bent are not on speaking terms.
Lambert opted to start new signing Christian Benteke against West Brom and Tottenham ahead of the club's record signing, even though Bent has notched three goals in six starts this season.
But Lambert insists talk of a fractious relationship is wide of the mark, saying Bent's disappointment at not starting is instead a positive feature of the 28-year-old's persona.
"I've never had a problem with Darren. I have a laugh and a joke with him," Lambert told reporters.
"Of course, I understand people get frustrated when they are left out. You'd be more worried if they weren't.
"But he has not been knocking on my door. There was never a problem.
"You wouldn't take Darren's selfishness away from him because he is a goalscorer and that's what he does best.
"As for people saying we are not talking, I don't worry because I know it's not true. Like I said, we have a laugh and a joke and there has never been that problem."
Lambert, whose team travel to Fulham on Saturday, praised Benteke for his efforts with Belgium as he netted twice in as many World Cup qualifiers.
The former Norwich City manager said that while keep his squad happy was a necessity, his main job was to pick a winning side.
"I try to be fair and honest with everyone. I don't rule with fear if that is what people think. I treat people the right way and respect them. I don't do anything untoward," Lambert said.
"But my job is to pick a team that will win us a game. That is my job and that's what I try and do for this football club.
"It will be the same for everyone. I trust the lads to perform. That's the great thing I've got but I can't keep everyone happy all the time. It's a decision I'll make."