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Lambert backs Benteke to stay calm in derby clash

Christian Benteke is "cool and calm enough" to handle any rough stuff from West Brom in today's derby, according to Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert.

Albion captain Chris Brunt was quoted as saying the best way of handling Villa's Belgian frontman was to "kick him" when they come up against their local rivals this week.

However Lambert is sure Brunt's comments were "tongue-in-cheek" and has no concerns about Benteke's temperament after his recent red card for retaliation against Tottenham.

"Listen, I don't think about that," said the Villa boss.

"As long as Christian keeps playing the way he has been for me, we'll concentrate on our own team and our own lads.

"I'm pretty sure if he (Brunt) has said that, it was tongue-in-cheek.

"I know exactly where he's coming from, so there's no problem with that. Christian is playing really well at the moment."

Benteke has only recently returned from a three-game ban for raising his hand to Spurs' Ryan Mason after being given some rough treatment during the Londoners' 2-1 win at Villa Park.

Lambert does not believe too much should be read into that flashpoint, however, and backed the Belgium international to keep his head in future.

"Listen, it happened once (recently) when he was sent off at Tottenham," said the Scot.

"But there's never really been a problem with Christian's temperament at all. It's the only time I've really seen him retaliate, which he knows he shouldn't have done.

"I don't think he'll do it again.

"Christian is cool and calm enough to handle that."

Key men Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph could be in contention to return to action against Albion.

Skipper Vlaar has been out since early November with a calf injury while England midfielder Delph dislocated his shoulder in October, but both have returned to training and may make surprise returns.

Tom Cleverley (bruised foot) is a doubt and fellow midfielder Ashley Westwood will miss around a month with a knee injury.

Forward Andi Weimann returns from suspension but defenders Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker remain out, as does midfielder Joe Cole.