Lambert warns not to expect repeat season from Aston Villa striker Benteke

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has moved to downplay expectations around centre-forward Christian Benteke, the Daily Telegraph has reported, as Lambert insists it is unrealistic to anticipate a second season as prolific as the Belgian’s first.

Benteke burst onto the Premier League scene last year with 18 goals in his debut campaign following a summer move from Genk. But the 22-year-old has found the new season much tougher going with only five goals so far – and none since the middle of September. Benteke has also struggled with a hip injury which the player admits has taken a lot out of him.

Lambert however has insisted that Benteke should never have been expected to match the feats of last season. “It is an absolute impossibility for any footballer to do what he did over that time, no way can a footballer sustain that. What he did last year was incredible,” the former Norwich City manager said.

He is in a spell now, he might have another one in three years, maybe in five,” Lambert continued. “But I don’t think any player doesn’t go through a spell like that. I knew it would happen. I actually thought it would have happened last year but it never did.

Last year he never got injured, only got a red card in the penultimate game, everything he touched went in and that’s unusual. I think Christian said himself that his injury at Norwich was the first he had ever encountered. He never knew what an injury was like.

Benteke will lead the line for Aston Villa against West Bromwich Albion on Monday evening, as Villa travel to the Hawthorns a place below the Baggies. The sides are level on points but West Brom’s slightly better goal difference means that despite having won fewer games than Villa, they sit 11th to the Villans’ 12th.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on West Brom v Aston Villa

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