Darren Bent was today told he has a Villa future after boss Paul Lambert confirmed the striker will not be sold in January.
Even though the transfer window does not open for just over two months, England international Bent has already been linked with a move to QPR, while Newcastle and Liverpool are also in the market for a striker.
Lambert’s decision to leave Bent on the substitutes’ bench for Villa’s last two games prompted speculation that the Scot’s relationship with the £24m club record signing had become strained.
But when asked if Bent would still be at Villa Park in February after the window slams shut the manager was definite.
“I don’t see any reason for him not to be at all. None whatsoever. No,” said Lambert.
“Being a footballer you have to be happy in your place of work. I understand the frustration people can get when they don’t play.
“You can’t stop people from trying to get your players. You can’t stop it. The only way to stop it is when people ring you to ask about them. I’ll just say yes or no.
“I don’t worry about them (reports he is not on speaking terms with Bent) because I know it’s not true. We have a laugh and a joke and there has never been that problem.
“I don’t rule with fear if that is what people think. I treat people the right way and respect them. I’ve always said to him ‘just come and see me, you know where I am’. I don’t have any problem at all.
“I think he’s happy about the place and likes playing here. In football everybody knows that you always get a chance again, it’s up to you to take the chance. He’s only missed two games! It’s not a major worry.”
Lambert denied he had been pressure from the Villa board to not play the club’s high earners in the wake of the omission of Bent and goalkeeper Shay Given.
“No, there’s been nothing. Randy and Paul have been great, there’s been a good relationship between us,” explained Lambert.
“I know I have to get results. Not once have they said I have to do x, y and z, they leave it to me.”