Aston Villa boss Lambert again rejects Bent bust-up claims

The Scot has again dismissed notions of a feud with the club's exiled record signing, insisting that his omission is for nothing more than footballing reasons
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert insists he has no personal issue with Darren Bent and is adamant the striker's continued absence from the side is because of footballing reasons.

The £24-million club-record signing has not been in the Villa squad for the whole of November despite making 11 appearances in the opening 12 fixtures of the season.

""The team I pick will be the team that I pick," Lambert told the pre-match press conference. "I know what happens in training and we will see what happens.

"I think the team that I pick will be the team that will try and go and win us a game. It's the way I've always done it and it's the way I will always be."

11/1 Aston Villa are 11/1 with Bet365 to finish bottom this season
It has been suggested Bent is being omitted from the side to avoid triggering a £3m bonus payment to former club Sunderland when he reaches 50 league appearances - a claim Lambert strongly refutes.

"Is there a clause? That's not true," he insisted. "I'm not sure where that came from. It is absolute drivel. Have there been any enquiries for Bent? No. Has he asked to be put on the transfer list? No."

The 43-year-old Scot has been utilising youngster Jordan Bowery, signed from Chesterfield in the summer, in Bent's place and was keen to point out his reasons for doing so.

"Jordan Bowery's potential is extremely high and he is an unknown quantity which sometimes can work in your favour," he continued.

"I see every day what goes on. We've got 20-odd guys in the same boat together which I pick from."