Christian Benteke is confident he can handle the pressure in second season at Aston Villa

The striker signed a new contract after asking for a transfer

Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke has backed himself to better his performances of last season and insists he can handle the pressure of expectation.

The big Belgian was one of the stars of the Premier League last term despite Villa's struggles, scoring 23 goals in all competitions.

It looked like manager Paul Lambert would face a real battle to hold on to him this summer after he handed in a transfer request, but last month he retracted it and signed a new deal until 2017.

Benteke has already scored five goals in pre-season, and he told http://www.avfc.co.uk: "I feel good, I feel really good. I expect myself to do better than last season.

"As a striker, a lot of people are waiting for me. The fans are waiting for me. So the pressure is going to be bigger around me but this is football and I accept that.

"I can take that. I am young. I am confident. This is part of football. You have to be able to handle this pressure. This is the life I have chosen so I am happy to take this on. I love it."

Villa battled against relegation for much of the season and looked in serious trouble, but a strong finish helped them to 15th place, five points clear of the bottom three.

Benteke does not expect Villa to have similar struggles this campaign, adding: "The objective is to do better than last season.

"We have quality in the team. We have to try to do better. That's our aim.

"It was maybe a tough beginning last season but we finished well, so why not do something good this season."

PA

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