Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert insists he has "no problem whatsoever" with Darren Bent after omitting the club's record signing from the matchday squad.
The £24m forward was in the stands for the 1-0 win over Reading at Villa Park in Tuesday's Premier League encounter.
"Darren Bent just has to play well and train well," said the Villa manager.
"He has a future, everybody has. I've got nothing against anybody in the club, I've got 25 lads to look after. I don't have any problem with anybody."
When asked by BBC Sport's Pat Murphy, Lambert denied Bent had left Villa Park after finding out he was not on the teamsheet, before being coaxed back to the ground.
"I just read the team out - there is nothing whatsoever in that," he said.
"I've got a football club to try to look after. I'm delighted for the team - we won the game."
Bent, bought in January 2011 by then Villa manager Gerard Houllier, has made nine league appearances so far this season - three as substitute - and has scored twice.
The England striker, 28, was omitted from last weekend's squad to face Arsenal and has had to play a minor role of late with Lambert preferring Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor up front.
The former Norwich boss started with 21-year-old Belgian Benteke alongside Andreas Weimann and Agbonlahor against Reading.
And Benteke settled the outcome against Reading 10 minutes from time when he rose above Sean Morrison to head in.
"He's done fantastic for me. He was up against a big lad. It was a fantastic header," added Lambert.
"Bent and Benteke can play together - they did against Southampton. We got beat 4-1.
"I've got to pick a team I think will win. It's my decision and it's always going to be the case."
Villa's third league win of the season lifted them out of the relegation zone and left Reading second from bottom - four points from safety.
Reading manager Brian McDermott said his side's league position was not a fair reflection of their current form.
"I thought we were going to nick the game," he told BBC Sport.
"We had a couple of good opportunities in the first half, and then Adam Le Fondre had a chance after the break.
"It's an unforgiving league, we know that. We have to stick together. We all have to keep going as a group . We don't feel we've had our rewards, but that'll come our way."