Clark keen to take focus off Benteke
Published 15/01/2013 | 08:20
Aston Villa's stand-in skipper Ciaran Clark insists striker Christian Benteke should not shoulder all the responsibility for spurned goal-scoring chances in recent matches.
Benteke has been in outstanding form since his £7million summer move from Genk and is Villa's current top scorer with nine goals. But he was guilty of failing to convert several gilt-edged opportunities in the last two matches against Bradford and Southampton which both ended in defeat.
Clark said: "It was just one of those days against Southampton. It wasn't just Christian. We are not putting chances away as a team. We need to defend as a team and attack as a team."
He added: "On another day, we could have scored three or four goals and then it's a different game. The luck is not with us and hopefully that will change. Christian has been brilliant for us this season. It's a team performance and we are all disappointed with each other that we haven't taken our chances.
"The good thing is we have created lots of chances. It would be different if we were losing games and weren't creating at all and were worried about how we are going to score. But we're causing teams problems. We just have to stick together and the luck will turn for us."
Clark, who has deputised as captain for the injured Ron Vlaar, admits facing Benteke in training will help him prepare for another powerful striker in Romelu Lukaku in Saturday's derby at West Brom.
Lukaku has also been in impressive form while on loan to the Baggies from Chelsea.
Clark said: "That's a big game for us and the supporters. It's a local derby and they have been doing well this season - but we have shown that we can do well against any team. Facing Christian will help me prepare to face Lukaku. They are similar players.
"I think Lukaku came on in the game at Villa Park so I've seen him play before and come up against him. He's a powerful guy and a big presence but we have to try to manage that and think positively.
"It will be a tough game and they have a number of strikers who can play and a number of tough opponents. We know it will be difficult but I am sure we will stick together and bounce back."