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Paul Lambert: I do not need to sell Darren Bent
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert insists he is under no pressure to sell any players during the January transfer window – including record signing Darren Bent.
Bent could make his comeback from a hamstring injury in today’s FA Cup third-round tie against former club Ipswich at Villa Park after returning to training yesterday.
Bent may then follow up with a run-out in the eagerly-awaited Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Bradford at Valley Parade on Tuesday.
The England international had lost his role as senior striker to Christian Benteke even before suffering the injury setback in the Capital One Cup clash with Norwich three weeks ago.
But Lambert is adamant he does not need to let anyone go this month, while he also refused to dismiss a possible move for Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott.
The Villa boss said: “I don’t need to get rid of anybody at the club at all. I don’t need to do it. It’s not something I’ve thought about.
“If a player hasn’t played a few games, people automatically think that is what is going to happen.
“But I’ve never come out and said anything. I thought Darren looked okay at Norwich before his hamstring went.”
Bent has been linked with fellow strugglers QPR and Fulham as well as mid-table West Ham.
But when suggested to Lambert that it would be daft to offload Bent to a relegation rival, he said: “Of course it would.”
Lambert admits Lescott is “a top player” and refused to dismiss a possible move for the 30-year-old centre back, who is out of favour at the Etihad Stadium and a lifelong Villa supporter.
The Scot said: “I’ve just heard that (the link with Lescott) and there will be loads of players linked.
“He (Lescott) has been a top player and still is. He’s not getting a game at Manchester City at the minute.
“As I’ve said before, I will sit with the rest of the staff and see what I can do. But I don’t think you can ever dismiss it whenever you are talking about a top player.”
Lambert has to decide whether to give another cup outing to goalkeeper Shay Given. He has helped Villa to the Capital One semi-finals, where they are odds-on favourites to book a Wembley berth at the expense of the Bantams.
The alternative would be to stick with Brad Guzan, who has been the first choice in the Barclays Premier League.
Lambert said: “Shay has been brilliant in the cup and Brad has been fantastic in the league. It is something I’ll look at.
“Every time Shay has played, he has been excellent. He kept us in the game at Norwich in the quarter-finals, to be honest, at 1-1. He has been huge for us.
“Whichever keeper I play, I’ll have no problem. It is an area in which we are strong, with two very good keepers.
“The goals we’ve conceded recently in the league (17 in four games), I don’t think it’s been Brad Guzan’s fault.
“If it wasn’t for him, it would have been 34. I think Shay would be the first to appreciate that Brad has not been at fault for any of the goals.”
Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (thigh) and winger Charles N’Zogbia (knee) are poised to return to training but midfielder Ashley Westwood has been ruled out after suffering an ankle injury during the 2-2 draw at Swansea.