Lambert calm over Benteke call-up
Published 03/10/2013 | 18:51
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will not become embroiled in a club-versus-country spat with Belgium despite national team coach Marc Wilmots controversially calling up injured striker Christian Benteke for their upcoming matches.
Benteke is still thought to be weeks away from fitness following a recent hip injury suffered against Norwich.
However, Belgium boss Wilmots has selected the big striker for his side's World Cup qualifiers against Croatia on October 11 and Wales on October 15 as his side seek the point they need to secure their spot next summer.
Wilmots has reportedly stated Benteke will not be risked for the Croatia match but, should they lose that and need a result against the Welsh, the striker is likely to be called upon.
When it was put to Lambert that he may be heading for a clash with his international counterpart, the Scot said: "No, I've spoken to Marc anyway and the medical people are engaged in good dialogue so there's no problems at all.
"But he's not fit for us this weekend.
"Christian is doing really well with his rehabilitation and we just have to wait and see how he's feeling. I've spoken to him every day, as I do with everybody else, and he's doing okay."
Villa beat Manchester City 3-2 at home without Benteke last Saturday to go some way to dispelling the myth that they are anything like a one-man team, but Lambert insists they never needed to make any sort of statement.
"The lads had nothing to prove to me," he said. "I knew we were up against one of the best teams in the country and that we had to play ever so well to try to get something from the game.
"Against City they had everything that you want from a footballer: The fight, hunger, desire, togetherness. Everything that makes a strong team, we had in abundance.
"It wasn't a statement as such, it was just a group of lads who came together in that game. Yes, we had to run a lot without the ball at certain times but there aren't many teams who are going to have much of the ball against Manchester City.
"But to cause them the problems we did was really pleasing."
Benteke was actually one of four first-team staples missing against the Blues last weekend.
"It wasn't just Christian we lost for last week," Lambert said. "There was Gabby Agbonlahor, Ashley Westwood and Jores Okore too.
"The four of them are doing well, even though Jores' cruciate injury will keep him out for a while.
"So it wasn't just Christian we missed, but the lads who came in were excellent for us."