Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert insisted he would "live and die" by his selection decisions after again leaving record signing Darren Bent out against Reading at Villa Park.
A goal from Bent's replacement up front, Christian Benteke, secured a 1-0 victory for Villa and moved them out of the Premier League bottom three.
But it was still a surprise to see £18 million England international Bent fail to make even the bench, with rookie striker Jordan Bowery preferred among the substitutes.
Lambert said: "I do rate Darren but I pick a team I always think will win. I've got 25 guys to look after.
"The most important thing is this club and I'll always make decisions I think are right for this club.
"I'll live and die by them. That's the nature of the beast. I'll always make an honest judgement on who I think should play but I have no problem with Darren, absolutely none."
Lambert denied there was any fall-out with Bent or that the striker had left the stadium before kick-off after his exclusion from proceedings.
Lambert said: "Darren was in the squad, it was the same on Saturday. I just picked the same group. I do what think is best for Aston Villa.
"I do rate him as a player. I've no problem with his attitude in training, none whatsoever."
Away from the ongoing intrigue over Bent, Lambert hailed the significance of Villa's third win of the season.
He said: "It was a big result because we knew the Arsenal game at the weekend would take a lot out of us.
"Reading had also played well against Wigan so knew it would be a tough game.
"But I don't know about it being a six pointer. Never look at things now, look in May."