sport

Lambert: Benteke is improving

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes Christian Benteke is slowly getting back to his best after a season disrupted by injury.

The Belgian scored 23 goals in all competitions for Aston Villa last season but has found the back of the next on just eight occasions so far during this campaign.

But Lambert is confident the striker will start firing again soon, insisting Benteke will continue to improve as he gets older and gains more experience.

"I think of late he's been doing well for us," Lambert told Sky Sports News' Weekend Warm-Up. "Up until his injury at Norwich I thought he was excellent. After that he didn't come back the same but I think in the last couple of months he is starting to get back to what he was.

"Last season for him was new. He never knew what to expect, the league never knew what to expect from him and then he became a big name overnight.

"In the space of nine months he became one of the most talked about strikers, not just in Britain, but in Europe.

"All of a sudden things don't start going your way but that's part and parcel of being a footballer. You take the ups and downs. He'll probably get more downs than highs as a footballer - it's about how you come back from them

"He's only a kid really at 22. I think people tend to forget he's a young guy. He was only 21 when he first came here. He's still a young guy who will be inconsistent because of his age."

Lambert took over as Aston Villa manager in 2012 and has placed his faith in young players in a bid to cut the club's wage bill.

The 44-year-old is happy with the job he has done at Villa Park, insisting the club have progressed under his stewardship of the club on and off the field.

"It's a great club with a great fanbase. It's got everything there - you've just got to sometimes take hits along the way to try and get to where you want to," he said.

"This time last year we were in a real dangerous situation but we came through that so when you look at that we've made progress on that.

"The football club is the most important thing but in the long-term, what's happening now will benefit this club in the long-term there's no two ways about it

"The finances are different everything is different on that side of it. Sometimes you have to take a step back to go a step forward.

"It's about building the whole thing."