On-loan Derby County striker Darren Bent has taken another swipe at recently departed Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, telling the Derby Telegraph that his former boss never gave him a chance at his parent club.
Bent, 31, joined the Rams on a season-long loan deal last month following a previous spell at Brighton & Hove Albion this winter, and has since hit an impressive seven goals in eight games to help lift the team to the top of the Championship.
The former England international also spent last season on loan at Fulham, where he scored six times in 30 total appearances, and hadn’t started a Premier League match this term prior to arriving at the iPro Stadium, making just seven brief cameos for a total of 83 minutes.
Out of contract at Villa Park in the summer, the in-form front man is now pleased to be making up for lost time, while proving some of his doubters wrong in the process.
"I feel like I missed out on two years because I hardly played at Villa,” he said. “I was never given the opportunity to play a regular amount of games. Playing 10 minutes as a substitute one week and then 10 minutes three weeks later, for me, is not playing.
“I feel as fresh as a daisy. I feel I have got two years to make up. The games are coming thick and fast, Tuesdays and Saturdays, and I have not had that for a long while but I am loving every minute of it.”
Arriving from Sunderland in the winter of 2011 for a club-record £18 million fee, Bent managed to net nine goals over the second-half of the 2010-11 season help steer Gerard Houllier’s Villa clear of relegation, but has since failed to deliver the same production.
With a record of 15 goals in 69 Premier League games since the start of the 2011-12 campaign, his form had been in stark contrast to that which once made him one of the top-flight’s most coveted marksman, but Derby first-team coach Paul Simpson believes he has now found a home in the East Midlands.
“You always worry with new signings, permanent or loans, that they are going to be taken in by the rest of the squad,” he said. “Darren walked in, no airs and graces about him.
“He stepped into the changing room and he is very good at table tennis, so he had a bit of street cred with the rest of the players straight away.
“He has been patient and waited for his opportunity in the side. He got it, and he has taken it with the goals he has scored.”