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The 43-year-old left £18 million record signing Darren Bent out of the squad for the Villans' 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Reading but insists there is no rift between them

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says that he "lives and dies" by his squad selection after leaving record signing Darren Bent out of the squad for the 1-0 win over Reading.

Bent's replacement Christian Benteke struck the all-important goal at Villa Park that pulled the Villans out of the bottom three but Lambert remains firm despite the £18 million striker being left out in place of youngster Jordan Bowery.

"Bent and Benteke can play together - they did against Southampton and we lost 4-1," Lambert told reporters. "I do rate Darren but I pick a team I always think will win.

"I've got 25 guys to look after. The most important thing is this club and I'll always make decisions I think are right for this club.

"I'll live and die by them. That's the nature of the beast. I'll always make an honest judgement on who I think should play but I have no problem with Darren, absolutely none."

The Scot also denied reports that he has had a fall-out with the England international and that Bent left the stadium before kick-off upon hearing that he would have no involvement in the match.
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"Darren was in the squad, it was the same on Saturday. I just picked the same group. I do what think is best for Aston Villa,” he added,

"I do rate him as a player. I've no problem with his attitude in training, none whatsoever."

The 43-year-old was aware of the importance of the result as his side picked only their third win of the season, but is confident that his side will not be embroiled in a relegation battle, brushing off the notion that the game was a 'six-pointer'.

"It was a big result because we knew the Arsenal game at the weekend would take a lot out of us," he continued.

"Reading had also played well against Wigan so knew it would be a tough game. But I don't know about it being a six pointer. Never look at things now, look in May."

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