Aston Villa v Cardiff City: Christian Benteke backed to return to goal trail soon

The Belgian has not scored since mid-September

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has no doubt Christian Benteke will soon be back in the goals.

You have to go back to September 14 for Benteke's last strike, coming in a 2-1 home defeat to Newcastle, although the Belgium forward did spend a month on the sidelines with a hip injury sustained soon after.

Since returning to the team in a 2-0 home loss to Spurs on October 20, the 22-year-old has had his opportunities - including a penalty in a 2-0 defeat to Everton - but failed to find the net.

Benteke's form is symptomatic of a Villa side that have drawn a blank in five of their last six matches in all competitions, with the only game to buck that trend being a surprise 3-2 victory over Manchester City at Villa Park.

Lambert, though, is far from concerned as he said: "People have to remember Christian is still a young guy, still learning, and he has only just come back from injury.

"He's had chances against Everton and West Ham, so you can't label anything against him.

"I'd be more worried if he wasn't getting chances, but the thing is he is getting them, so I've no worries about him whatsoever.

"Everyone has to help, just as everyone has to help defensively. It's a team game, we're in it together.

"It's true what they say - you win together, you lose together, and Christian is part of the whole thing, along with everybody else."

Overall, Villa have scored just nine goals in 10 Barclays Premier League matches this season, remarkably the same as fourth-placed Tottenham.

However, there are 10 places and nine points between the two sides as Spurs have been stunning defensively, apart from their one aberration in losing 3-0 at home to West Ham.

Such statistics, however, underline the fine margins that exist, with Lambert adding: "It's highlighted more because of where they (Spurs) are.

"But the one thing you can never say about us is we don't give it a go because we try and create as much as we can.

"If we'd taken our chances against Everton we would have won it. We had a penalty and two one-v-one opportunities.

"If Christian's header had been an inch under the bar against West Ham, or Andi (Weimann) had gone on for his one-v-one chance, we win the game.

"So again, I'd be more worried if we weren't creating. But I know the lads will come good. We're not far away."

For tomorrow's visit of Cardiff, fresh from their south Wales derby win over Swansea, Lambert is again bereft of several players through injury.

Andreas Weimann and Antonio Luna (both hamstring), Gabriel Agbonlahor (ankle) and Joe Bennett (back) are out, joining long-term casualties Charles N'Zogbia (Achilles), Gary Gardner (back) and Jores Okore (knee) on the sidelines.

The only bright spot for Lambert is Fabian Delph could return after missing last weekend's goalless draw at West Ham through illness.

Lambert is hopeful striker Weimann and left-back Luna will return after the international break, for the next match at home to West Brom on November 25, with another left-back in Bennett still a few weeks away.

As for Agbonlahor, after playing through an ankle ligament problem, Lambert is unsure as to his return date.

"The good thing is we have the international break coming up so it will give us a bit more time to get him fit," said Lambert.

"To be fair, he was playing with it (the injury), and we asked him to go and perform, which he did, but you can't keep doing that. Now we'll have to wait and see."

PA

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