Villa ace Christian Benteke was today ruled out for up to six weeks – but Paul Lambert revealed the injury could have been much worse.
The striker missed last night’s 4-0 Capital One Cup exit to Tottenham and could be sidelined for up to six games with a hip injury. The five-goal top scorer is not expected to return at the earliest until Villa host Everton on October 26.
Villa crashed out of the League Cup without the striker as Jermain Defoe’s double and goals from Nacer Chadli and Paulinho won it for Spurs.
And the claret and blues were hit with a further blow with Benteke’s prognosis but boss Lambert dreaded a longer lay-off. He said: “It’s not as bad as we feared. It’ll be maybe four, five or six weeks and we’ve got the international break which helps us. He’s feeling a lot better.
“We spoke to the medical people and they gave us the best and worst case scenario. You are never sure until you hear from the professor.
“It’s just a muscle injury and thankfully for us it’s not too serious.”
And Lambert reckons Benteke is out of Belgium’s World Cup qualifiers against Croatia and Wales and has already spoken to his national boss Marc Wilmots.
“I would have thought he’s out of those. I spoke to Marc after the game Saturday and I’m pretty sure everyone to get back as quick,” said Lambert.
Villa were outclassed by impressive Tottenham but should have had a penalty when Jan Vertonghen pulled Nicklas Helenius’ shorts down as he prepared to shoot.
“The big moment was the penalty but that’s football. I don’t think anyone could believe he wasn’t pulled back,” said Lambert.
“It was the first time I’ve seen something like that. I don’t think anyone could believe what happened.
“We never got it.
“They are the decisions you hope you get but the referee makes the decisions.
“I thought that myself (Helenius was too honest) and we had the similar situation at Arsenal when Gabby (Agbonlahor) was brought down and the referee waited to see where the ball went before giving the penalty.
“We started the second half well, we played two lads up top and we did OK.”