Lambert challenges Benteke score more

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has challenged striker Christian Benteke to stay with the club and prove he is no "one-season wonder".

Christian Benteke, Paul Lambert, Aston Villa

The Belgian international has enjoyed a superb first season in the Barclays Premier League, hitting 19 goals for his club in all competitions.

Benteke, who is supposedly attracting interest from so-called bigger clubs, has been shortlisted for the PFA's Young Player of the Season award - but Villa boss Lambert showed little interest in the nomination.

"I'm not bothered if he's nominated or not, as long as he's performing for this club," said the Scot. "That's the most important thing for me.

"His form has dictated that people have nominated him. It's great for him and great for the football club that he has been, alongside some really great players.

"Whether he wins it or not, wait and see. I don't think it will affect him one bit or affect his football. If he remains the way he is at this minute, he'll do very well for himself."

Supposed interest in Benteke from other clubs has prompted speculation about Villa offering him an improved deal from the contract he signed upon joining from Genk last summer.

"He's only just come here," said Lambert. "I know the situation and how well he's done for us.

"Christian himself wouldn't want to speak about anything like that at minute even though we've got a good relationship with each other. Things like that take care of themselves.

"Once he's done it for 25 years, then I'll think about it, once he's done it year after year after year!

"I know the situation and no doubt we'll look at it at end of season.

"The guy's been great but I just don't want him to be a one-season wonder.

"He's doing his job, that's all you can ask of him. He's playing, scoring goals, he's been great.

"He's never knocked on my door over anything like that."

Villa currently sit three points above the relegation zone as a difficult season heads for an intriguing climax.

Lambert's side still have struggling rivals Sunderland, Norwich and Wigan to play but first face champions-elect Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday.

A 1-1 draw at home to Fulham last weekend could have been seen as two points lost, having led the game, but Lambert remains in positive spirits.

"If somebody had said we'd take four points out of the games against Stoke and Fulham, I would have taken them," he said. "Fulham don't get the credit they deserve. I can't fault the players, with all the effort they put in and the chances they created."

Lambert hopes to have Gabriel Agbonlahor back in his squad after the long-serving forward missed last weekend's match with a groin problem.



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