Darren Bent has expressed his disappointment with Paul Lambert, the Aston Villa manager, for dropping him without offering any explanation to complete what the striker described as a "crappy couple of weeks" at the club. Bent came off the bench to equalise in the 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday but he was visibly upset after the final whistle and made no attempt to conceal his frustration at losing the captaincy and his starting place in the space of a fortnight.
The 28-year-old England forward, who was relieved of the responsibility of leading the team when Villa beat Swansea two weeks earlier, was particularly aggrieved with the manner in which he discovered that he was being left out for the Albion fixture. Instead of being pulled to one side beforehand and given an explanation for the decision – an unwritten rule for managers to apply when dropping a player and in particular a senior member of the squad – the first Bent knew he was not in the starting XI was when Lambert read out the team.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, who scored twice in the 4-2 victory over Manchester City in the League Cup last Tuesday, and Christian Benteke were given the nod up front, which was not something that Bent, the club's record signing, had expected after getting his first Premier League goal of the season, at Southampton the previous weekend.
"I felt a bit disappointed that I didn't start the game," Bent said. "It's always nice to come on and score a goal in any circumstances, especially in the derby. But it's been a crappy couple of weeks for me, finding out I was no longer captain before the [Swansea] game. And here, again, to find out before the game that I wasn't playing. It was disappointing.
"I can't remember the last time [I've been left out of a side]. I only found out when the gaffer read the team sheet out. It's frustrating and disappointing. All I can do is keep coming on and scoring goals, and take it from there. My confidence is back after getting the goal against Southampton. That was a massive boost. I took a knock [on Sunday], but at the same time I tried to get back on to the pitch and work as hard as I could for the team to try to get them back into the game."
Asked what the manager said about why he was not playing, Bent replied: "Nothing. I've not spoke to him at all about why he left me out. We'll probably speak next week." Bent was emotional after he scored, although he denied that he was about to say something to Lambert when he set off in the direction of the dugout before being mobbed by team-mates.
"No, not really," he said. "You're always frustrated when you're not playing games. And the way I found out that I wasn't playing … but I wanted to go to the family and give them a wave. Then go from there really."
Although Bent scored against Tranmere in the earlier round of the League Cup and Southampton in the Premier League, he has looked a little off the pace and it was put to him that Lambert may have wanted to give him a "kick up the backside" to get the best out of him.
"Yes, maybe," Bent said. "Strikers are always judged on scoring goals. After getting the one last week, I thought that would build me up for today but it just wasn't to be."
If there was a small consolation for Bent, it was that Roy Hodgson, the England manager, was still in the stadium when the striker crashed home his goal, in the 80th minute, with only his third touch of the ball after replacing Benteke.
Bent has not played for England since last November and after seeing his hopes of featuring at Euro 2012 dashed by injury, suffered further disappointment when he was omitted from the squad for the first two World Cup qualifiers. "It's not been a great period for me," Bent said. "But I didn't know Roy Hodgson was there until someone told me after the game. If he was there then hopefully that goal will give me a boost and maybe I'll be in his plans."
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