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Injury sidelines Benteke

Christian Benteke has been ruled out of Aston Villa's Christmas and New Year fixtures.

The striker has been struggling with a knee problem and did not play in Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Stoke City.

He has travelled to Belgium to have treatment on the injury from the Belgium national team physiotherapist.

Sky Sports News understands Benteke could now miss Villa's next three games, against Crystal Palace, Swansea and Sunderland.

Manager Paul Lambert had insisted the injury was not a major concern, saying: "He needs to have a wee bit of a rest and treatment. It's not long-term, I'm pretty sure it is not."

Villa have not revealed how long Benteke will need to get back to full fitness or the exact nature of the injury, but they will be keen to get him firing again after a miserable season.

The Belgium international was in phenomenal form last season, scoring 23 goals for his club and attracting the attention of Tottenham Hotspur among a clutch of clubs.

But he has failed to find the same prolific scoring touch this term. In fact, he has not scored for 10 games, a barren run which started back in September.