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The captain praised his Villa team-mate, who recently netted his first hat-trick for the club in a 6-1 win over Sunderland, and believes the striker has been the standout youngster

Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar believes team-mate Christian Benteke deserved to win the Professional Footballers Association Young Player of the Year award ahead of Tottenham talisman Gareth Bale.

Benteke has been in blistering form during his debut season in English football - netting 22 goals in all competitions - but was pipped to the prestigious award by the Spurs star.

However, Vlaar has praised the way Benteke has settled into life in the Premier League and feels his performances have been unmatched by any other youngsters.

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He told reporters: "When we play 11 v 11 in training he’s always in my team because most of the time we are getting ready for the next game. You saw it again on Monday. He takes the ball on his chest. No-one can get it.

"He scares opponents. You can see that in games. When Brad Guzan kicks a long ball a lot of time they don’t even bother challenging him because he’s so strong so he takes it on his chest. A lot of strikers in England are like that. But with his height and his body, he’s very strong. And he’s still growing.

"He also had to get used to the way of playing in England so he also learned to defend himself, keeping the ball and things like that, so he has definitely become a stronger player.

"I don’t think there are young players who have done more than him this season. He has been very important and he will be important again in these last couple of games for us. That’s for sure because all the defenders are always busy with him.”

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