Paul Lambert backs Christian Benteke to lead Villa revival

Paul Lambert today backed Christian Benteke to spearhead a Villa revival in the second half of the season.

Villa striker Christian Benteke
Villa striker Christian Benteke

The boss was considering recalling the striker ahead of today’s game at Sunderland after his recovery from a knee injury.

Benteke had scored five league goals at this stage last season and has five this term but has not netted in his last 10 games.

Villa were winless in five going into their trip to the Stadium of Light.

But Lambert expects the Belgian hitman to rediscover the form which saw him hit 15 goals after the turn of the year last term.

He said: “It's a boost as in his presence and that.

“The thing with Christian is he's a young guy. Everyone put him on a pedestal and thought he was fantastic. But you don't want people to do that as he is only 22-years-old and has years to go.

“He will have spells where he doesn't perform and his confidence will suffer along with every other young player. They lose confidence quicker than experienced lads.

“If he comes back and does what he did at the turn of the year last year he will kick on again.

“He has the presence and it is a big boost to have him back. There's no doubt. And if he can go and perform like he did at the turn of the year he will have another massive impact.

“His presence is a big factor.”

Ron Vlaar is also edging closer to fitness after almost a month out with a calf injury and Lambert confirmed he resumed training this week.

“He trained with the group and he was outside. We only have one centre half at the moment,” added the manager.

"We would only have Nathan Baker fit if Ron isn’t fit. So we'd need to adjust. I don't think we'd play a midfielder in defence.”