Paul Lambert hails 'special' Christian Benteke as Darren Bent continues to be sidelined

Belgian scores winner against Reading as record signing fails to even make the bench

Paul Lambert has hailed Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke as “a special type of player” after his goal against Reading lifted the midlands club out of the Barclays Premier League bottom three.

Benteke continues to justify Lambert's decision to prefer the Belgian international to fit again record signing Darren Bent after netting the only goal last night at Villa Park.

The £7 million summer signing from Genk has quickly become a fans' favourite at Villa Park while Bent cannot even command a place amongst the substitutes.

Lambert predicts that it could be several more years before Benteke reaches his peak but is excited by what he is producing already as a 21-year-old.

The Scot said: "Christian has been excellent. You run out of things to say about the big guy.

"He has turned himself into a fans' favourite here, that's for sure, and his general game is outstanding at the minute.

"He has been brilliant for us. I thought the header for the winner against Reading was fantastic.

"You forget he is only 21 and he might not hit his peak until his late 20s but he is playing ever so well for us."

Benteke is used as the only out and out striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation and Lambert said: "You've got to be a special type of player to play that lone striker role.

"He has also been fantastic for Belgium and he is getting better with every game.

"He is developing his whole demeanour...he is growing up. he is a strong lad but also has really good ability.

"He does get on the end of chances. I've been delighted with him."

Lambert has proved he is not afraid to make big decisions and since his arrival at Villa Park has axed the likes of Bent, Shay Given, Charles N'Zogbia and Stephen Ireland at various times.

Leaving Bent completely out of his matchday 18 for the last two games has been a big call, after the striker recovered three weeks ago from an ankle setback, given his goalscoring record.

It has led to speculation that the former Tottenham and Sunderland player, who was given and then had the captaincy removed by Lambert, will leave Villa in January.

But Lambert insisted: "I do pick a team honestly as I can. You can't please everyone all the time. You leave out people like Ireland and N'Zogbia, Given - big players.

"It is never to pick a team because you have that many lads to look after but I've got 25-26 lads I have to look after.

"I've not had one problem with any of the lads. The most important thing is this club and I'll always make decisions I think are right for this club."

When asked what Bent needs to do to get back into the team, Lambert said: "With any player, you work hard, you get in the side, you stay in the side. You play on merit.

"Everyone is the same. I watch them in training every day. I see how they play, how they train and then come Saturday, you pick a team you think will win.

"I'm not going to pick one I think will lose! You need everyone to pull the same way and that's hopefully what we will create here."

Villa visit bottom placed QPR on Saturday with Lambert hoping skipper and defender Ron Vlaar's calf problem - suffered in the goalless draw with Arsenal - will not result in a lengthy lay-off.

He said: "I'll have to wait and see how he goes in the next few days. It's his calf.

"I hope it's not going to rule him out for two to three weeks because he has been a big player for us."

PA

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine