Darren Bent was today assured by Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert he will not be sold in January to raise additional transfer funds.
The England international has lost his place to Belgium striker Christian Benteke and was stripped of the Villa captaincy earlier in the season.
Relations between Lambert and Bent became strained and it had prompted speculation that the Scot would cash in on the £24m poacher when the window opened in January.
But when asked if he was actively looking to sell the striker, who should be fit for this weekend’s clash with Arsenal after a recent ankle problem, Lambert said: “No. Honestly. It’s just back to the injury and I have to look after another 20 lads.
“There isn’t an issue – at least not at my end there isn’t. Goalscorers are the same, they thrive on scoring. The team is playing well and talking about Darren is deflecting from other guys who have come in and done really well. They’ve been brilliant.
“I have to pick a team I think will win. I’ve always done that, I’ve never had any favourites. I look at them as equals and try to get the best out of them. This club is too big to be about one individual or a few individuals. It’s about the team.
“Gabby Agbonlahor’s been playing well and Chris is excelling in the league. Andreas Weimann’s getting better – he has been brilliant with his energy and enthusiasm.”
Meanwhile, Villa have blocked an offer from Hull City boss Steve Bruce to take out-of-favour goalkeeper Shay Given on loan.
The 36-year-old former Ireland international has been dislodged as first choice by Brad Guzan and has only appeared in two Capital One Cup fixtures since the end of August.
Tigers chief Bruce had hoped to strike a deal with Villa to sign Given on a temporary basis but it is understood the claret and blues were not prepared to loan out the veteran.
Lambert said: “That’s the problem if you’re a goalkeeper there’s only one place for you and another guy to compete for. You’re never too far from being thrown back in ”
* Young midfielder Daniel Johnson has returned to Villa after his one-month loan spell at Yeovil Town was not extended. Johnson started three games.