Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has hit back at claims from record signing Darren Bent, insisting his decision to let the striker leave on loan was "nothing personal".
The 30-year-old former England international was out of favour at Villa Park this season four years after arriving from Sunderland in a club- record £24million deal, making only eight appearances for the Premier League side - seven of them as a substitute.
Bent was regularly overlooked by Lambert and spent last season on loan at Fulham before he was loaned out to Brighton earlier this term. He then joined up with Championship high-flyers Derby on a season-long loan deal on January 2, theoretically putting an end to his Villa career with his contract due to expire this summer.
Earlier this month Bent was quoted as saying that Lambert's decision to leave him out of his plans was "personal" but the Villa boss said in several national newspapers: "I think Darren has got to be honest with himself. If you ask anyone here, or any of his team-mates, they would tell you, it's nothing personal.
"I never stood in his way to go to any other club.
"The only clubs that came in for him were Championship clubs - not one Premier League club. That says a lot, so it was never personal.
"He went to Brighton for a month and [they] never wanted to renew it. He's gone to Derby and never started a game.
"At Fulham, he never played a lot of games towards the tail end. Was it personal with me when he was at Fulham? It is what it is, but it was never personal."