Thursday 26 April 2018

Christian Benteke could return to action this weekend - Paul Lambert

Christian Benteke is nearing an Aston Villa comeback after his injury lay-off
Christian Benteke is nearing an Aston Villa comeback after his injury lay-off

Nick Mashiter

Christian Benteke could return for Aston Villa this weekend - with boss Paul Lambert considering his comeback.

The striker has been out since April after rupturing his Achilles but Lambert is assessing his fitness ahead of Saturday's clash with Manchester City.

Benteke, who also missed Belgium's World Cup campaign this summer, returned to training this month and may feature against the Barclays Premier League champions at Villa Park.

"We'll see how he does this week," Lambert told the club's official site.

"You've got to remember he's been out for five months and has only been in full training for two weeks. I'll have that dialogue with him. We'll see how he feels.

"If we think he's justified to go in with his fitness levels then that's something that myself and the staff will decide.

"First and foremost I don't think there's any pressure on him. You don't heap pressure on somebody that's just coming back from that injury.

"If Christian can do what he did in his first year and up until he got injured last year then that's great."

Benteke has scored 34 goals in 67 games for Villa since his £7m move from Genk in 2012 and Lambert insists he can be world class.

"Christian is one of the best number nines I've seen - even as a player - and I played with no slouches, that's for sure," he said, after Villa's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday.

"I probably played with three of the greatest strikers in the world at one time (Karl-Heinz Riedle, Henrik Larsson and Stephane Chapuisat) and he's certainly up there.

"If he can have the career those guys had then he'll be doing well for himself.

"He's only 23. He has a long way to go and he's got a chance if he keeps at it.

"He's a lot younger than the lads that I played with but when he's on his game he's excellent."

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