Paul Lambert is confident Aston Villa will keep hold of dropped record signing Darren Bent beyond the January transfer window.
Villa manager Lambert has left the £18 million capture from Sunderland out of his starting line-up for the matches with West Brom and Tottenham and that has led to speculation that Bent will leave the midlands club when the transfer window reopens.
But Lambert said: "I'm pretty sure Darren will come back strongly. I don't think he'll take it (being dropped) lying down. There's nothing wrong with getting a knock at times, nothing wrong with it. He'll bounce back from it. He's only missed two games. He's nothing to prove to me or anybody else. I know what he can do."
He added: "Everybody's in the same boat, it's not just Darren. I don't think you can never have a guaranteed player. I also think you have to keep on earning it (a place in the team). If you do that, it's fine.
"When the window opens, you can't stop people from trying to get your players. You can't stop it. The only way to stop it, is when people ring you to ask about players. I just say yes or no.
"Will Bent still be at Villa in February? Yes, I don't see any reason for him not to be at all. None whatsoever."
Lambert stresses he is under no pressure from club owner Randy Lerner to offload any of the club's high wage earners which include Bent and dropped goalkeeper Shay Given.
He said: "There's been nothing like that. Randy Lerner and (chief executive) Paul Faulkner have been great. There's been a good relationship between us. I know I have to get results like any manager.
"But not once have they said I have to do x, y and z. They leave it to me which is great.
"I make decisions I think that will benefit this club."
- Darren Bent
- Aston Villa
- Paul Lambert