FORMER Sunderland striker Darren Bent has hit out at Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert after he was “alienated” at Villa Park.
Bent, who was an unused substitute against Sunderland on Saturday, completed a season-long loan move to Fulham last week and the 29-year-old insists he is relieved to have found a new club.
“It’s been a long, long summer,” he said. “There’s been a lot of speculation about where I was going to go and where I was going to play my football, but it was Fulham who did the most work in getting me to the club and that’s why I’m their player.
“It was really difficult at Villa because we weren’t allowed to play in any matches, a few of us were kind of alienated to train with the kids. It has been difficult.
“There were times when I was thinking: ‘Do I really deserve this?’ It’s all well and good not being part of the squad, but to be treated like we have is bad.
“It was horrible. It wasn’t so much the injuries, although they certainly didn’t help, it was just the uncertainty. There were times I was in the squad and times I wasn’t and there was just no explanation why.
“I understand that not every player can be every manager’s cup of tea, but to be alienated like that, to be kicked out of the first-team dressing-room, when I’ve played a long time, when I’m an international, just felt a bit disappointing.”
Having joined Villa in a shock move from Wearside in January 2011, Bent lost his place in the team to new signing Christian Benteke last season.
He managed just three Premier League goals in 2012-13 and was informed that he would not be part of Lambert’s plans this year, even if he stayed to fight for a place in the team.
Bent had been a target for Newcastle, before his wages and Villa’s £6million asking price became stumbling blocks, and he will now attempt to get back to the form he displayed in his time at Sunderland in the hope of making a return to the England squad for next summer’s World Cup.
“I’m happy to be a Fulham player and I’m looking forward to kicking on from here,” Bent added.
“I’m not just hungry to play football again, I’m absolutely starving.
“I’ve missed out on a couple of major competitions with England, but I just hope this is my year. I need to get back to playing regularly, scoring goals for Fulham. That’s what I do best.
“There’s still so much to come from me, I can promise you that.”