Lambert challenges Benteke to stay at Villa and prove he's not a one-season wonder
17:15 GMT, 19 April 2013
19:44 GMT, 19 April 2013
Paul Lambert registered little surprise at Christian Benteke’s nomination for the PFA young player of the year yesterday but asked Aston Villa’s top scorer to guard against becoming a one-season wonder.
Benteke, 22, has scored 19 goals so far, including 15 in the Premier League, and been the major reason why Lambert’s side has managed to claw themselves clear of trouble in the Premier League.
His physical presence has also allowed others to flourish. But Villa’s boss remained phlegmatic at the announcement, instead urging Benteke to carry on his good work.
Plea: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has challenged Belgian striker Christian Benteke to stay at Villa Park and prove he is no one-season wonder.
'I’m not bothered if he’s nominated or not, as long as he’s performing for this club,' said Lambert, 'we’ll have to wait and see whether he wins it.
'However, I don’t think it’ll affect him one bit. If he remains the way he is at this minute, he’ll do very well for himself.
Preparation: Benteke and Villa travel to Manchester United this weekend
'And I don’t want to pile too much pressure upon him. He’s only a young guy learning his trade. He’s made mistakes like everyone else but his performances have been very good.
'He’s got to sustain a level where he is doing it, week in, week out.
'No doubt we’ll look at his contract at the end of the season. I just don’t want him to be one-season wonder.'
Little interest: Lambert is not bothered whether Benteke wins the PFA Young Player of the Year or not – knowing how valuable he has been for his side this season
The spotlight will be on Manchester United’s David De Gea after Andy Carroll’s challenge on the keeper at Upton Park last week.
Lambert said that while Benteke was aggressive, there is no malicious intent.
Tough test: Villa travel to Old Trafford to face Player of the Year nominees Michael Carrick and Robin Van Persie
'I think a lot has been made of that situation,' added the Scot, 'we don’t really have a physical side, it has only been Christian, he’s a big lad but not an aggressive guy who does not want to hurt anyone.
'I don’t think anyone goes out to hurt anyone. The British game is an up and out them type of football. But Christian is not that way inclined.'
Wrong end: Fabian Delph's (right) own goal gave Aston Villa a point against an 'underrated' Fulham side
Threatened: Villa now sit just three points above the relegation zone and Wigan have a game in hand