Lambert giving Benteke time to regain goal touch

Manager Paul Lambert has moved to lift the pressure off Christian Benteke as Aston Villa look to end their goalless streak.

They go to QPR tonight having lost their last four games without scoring and were beaten 3-0 at Everton last week.

Benteke made his first start in seven months at Goodison Park as he returns from a ruptured Achilles.

Only Andreas Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor have scored for Villa this term — both twice — and Lambert insists Benteke cannot be expected to hit top form immediately.

“The reality tells you that won’t happen,” he said.

“Because he’s just coming back, there’ll be times when you think ‘Yes, he’s back to his old self’ and others when he’ll look like someone who’s not played for a length of time. But when you put Benteke on your teamsheet it makes people think: ‘It doesn’t matter how long he’s been out, he’s still a threat’. ”

But Lambert admitted Villa need a goal to stop their slide down the table after a promising start. Even at Everton we had Richardson, Cleverley, N’Zogbia, Benteke and Agbonlahor — five guys that have goals in them.

“But that wasn’t the problem, the problem was we never started the game well and got what we deserved. ”

Villa are the lowest scorers in the Premier League, having bagged just four goals. They have still won three games but Lambert dismissed the need to buy extra firepower in January.

“There’s no doubt, I’ve got no issues with that on the goalscoring front,” he said. “I think we’ve got enough when it comes to January.

“The problem at Everton was we never performed to earn the right to win a game.”

QPR are bottom of the table ahead of the game with the row between manager Harry Redknapp and Adel Taarabt overshadowing their preparations.

The pair were eventually told to stop by chairman Tony Fernandes after trading barbs after Redknapp insisted Taarabt was overweight and did not train properly.

But Lambert will ignore the problems at Loftus Road ahead of the game.

“I won’t get involved in things at other clubs, I’ve got enough at my own club,” he said.

“Harry’s a really good manager, he’s been at the top for a long time, he’ll know what’s exactly what’s going on.

“It’s always tough to go to Loftus Road because of how tight it is.”

QPR goalkeeper Alex McCarthy says the squad have been able to joke about Taarabt’s feud with Redknapp.

McCarthy said: “We’ve had a few laughs here and there about it, but Adel doesn’t take anything to heart.

“The whole team has been focused and it hasn’t affected anyone at all.”

QPR have four points this term after beating Sunderland and losing to Stoke and are keen to extend Villa’s losing streak.

“It’s a good time (to play Villa), with the results, how they’ve been going,” McCarthy added.


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