Lambert hails 'brilliant' Benteke return

The Aston Villa manager is excited by the striker's first pre-season appearance since reversing his transfer request, despite a 2-0 defeat to Luton Town in a fitness-building game
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has welcomed the "brilliant" return to action of striker Christian Benteke.

After U-turning on his transfer request and signing a new contract, the Belgian was back on show for the Villans in their 2-0 friendly loss to Luton Town on Tuesday.

Jon Shaw and Jake Howells scored the goals for the fifth-tier outfit at Kenilworth Road but Lambert was pleased with the game as an exercise in fitness and praised Benteke's 45-minute contribution.

25/1 Paul Lambert is 25/1 with Coral to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post
"It was just another fitness thing. Luton did really fine against us," the Villa manager told the club's official website.

"The pleasing thing was Christian being back. Some of his touches were brilliant. He had 45 minutes. He's only done a bit of training. He's still got to work on match fitness but that 45 minutes will do him the world of good."

Lambert is, however, concerned by the number of quality players still on the sidelines at Villa Park.

"We have too many injures at the minute. That's the frustrating thing," he observed. "When you look at the ones missing - the likes of [Jores] Okore, [Aleksandar] Tonev, [Gabriel] Agbonlahor, [Andreas] Weimann, [Nicklas] Helenius - there are a lot of big players absent.

"We want to get them back. Hopefully there might be one or two back for Friday [against Crewe]. We will have to see how that progresses and see how it goes.

"Once we start to get everybody back, we will be pretty strong but you're going to get injuries. That's the nature of the game."