Paul Lambert today insisted he has not given Darren Bent the “silent treatment” after he confirmed the Villa striker has not sought him out for a one-to-one chat.
The Scot axed Bent from his starting line-up against Albion last weekend, only for the £24m goal poacher to come off the bench and net the equaliser.
Bent vented his frustration at being dropped after the match and expressed a desire to have talks with Lambert during the week, but the Villa boss revealed they never took place.
“I’m pretty sure if Darren has a problem he would come in and see me and he hasn’t,” said Lambert, when asked if he had spoken to the England forward.
“I’ve said ‘good morning to him, how are you – I’m fine’, that’s it. I don’t have a problem. I don’t need to raise it. I’m not giving him the silent treatment. Believe it or not, people on the outside will make more of it than it actually is.
“If there was a problem, Darren would have been knocking on my door as any player would.
“He’s got nothing to prove to me. I know exactly what he can do. I know his goalscoring record. We need everyone, not just individuals, but collectively to win games.”
Bent had also said he was unhappy with the manner in which Lambert informed him he would not be in the side.
The Villa manager prefers to simply read out the team rather than pull a senior player to one side if they have been left out. And the Villa boss confirmed that he will continue to keep his players sweating on whether they are in the starting line-up rather than brief individuals in advance.
“It’s just something I’ve always done. If you tell someone they’re going to play two days before the game I think they might take their foot off the pedal a little bit,” added the Scot.
“There’s nothing better than sitting on a knife-edge at times. You have to be ready for the game. I just pick a team I think will win a game. I’ve got no dispute with anyone.
“As an ex-player I know you have to do your utmost to get into the side. In terms of Darren, I don’t have one problem whatsoever.
“He didn’t knock on my door. That’s why I don’t think there is a problem. Nothing.”