Paul Lambert denies Aston Villa have opened talks with Christian Benteke over new deal

Striker has enjoyed a fine debut season

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has denied the club are in contract talks with Christian Benteke, insisting that the striker's future will not be discussed until Villa's Premier League survival is secured.

The 22-year-old Belgian's goal against Stoke last weekend nudged him a step closer to becoming the first Villa player to score 20 league goals in a season since Peter Withe 32 years ago, but Lambert says that neither party has pushed for negotiations to begin.

Lambert said: "I think the most important thing is the league until the end of the season, I heard somebody say he's been promised a new contract but I can't have been a part of those conversations. I speak to him all the time, not about contracts, I just tell him to keep it going really. And he's never once mentioned anything to me about contracts.

"He's got a contract here anyway as it stands, but I think it's important we stay in this league and do as well as we've been doing. As I said before I've never had one conversation with him regarding contracts or anything like that, he's not that type of lad. I'm sure come the end of the season we'll sit down and it'll be just Chris and a few others."

Lambert also praised the development of the Belgian hitman since he joined the club last summer and says the fact that Withe's record has stood for as long as it has is a mark of the impact the man signed from Genk in the summer has had.

"If you have to go back that far it shows how good he's been. Nobody visualised he was going to do what he has when he first came in, but the big guys been fantastic.

"He's the one that does it, he's the one that plays the game, he's the one that goes out there every week and he's been a credit to himself and to the football team - that's the main thing. I'd like to see him continue doing what he's been doing and as for the rest we'll see what happens."

Benteke has now scored four goals in his last four games. That run has seen Villa come away with three wins, moving them three points clear of the relegation zone in the process.

A home win against Fulham on Saturday would see them move just three points below the Cottagers who currently sit in 11th.

PA

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