Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) September 15, 2014
Christian Benteke has been pictured back in full training with Aston Villa for the first time since rupturing his Achilles tendon on the training ground last April.
Benteke, 23, had scored 10 goals in 26 Premier League games up to that point of the 2013-14 season, leaving Villa forced to battle through the rest of the campaign without their star striker.
Missing out on a chance to lead the line for Belgium at the World Cup as a result, there were initial fears that he would be ruled out for the first-half of this term but, after resuming light training during pre-season, the 17-times capped international’s return now looks to be well ahead of schedule.
Manager Paul Lambert is remaining cautious, however, insisting that the club won’t be rushing him back, despite the encouraging signs.
‘I’m delighted with the efforts of the medical team here at Villa for working incredibly hard with Christian to get him back to fitness so quickly,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘Christian trained today, though it was a light session. Hopefully, with no effects from that, he’ll train again tomorrow with the group.
‘Obviously, we’ll be monitoring his fitness and we’ll continue to build him up towards a return to the team.’
While Villa have so far coped well without Benteke, taking 10 points from their opening four league games, Lambert’s side have also recorded just six shots on target in that time, and news that he could return at the end of the month will no doubt be a huge comfort.
The club’s undisputed talisman since arriving from Genk in August 2012 for around £7 million, the imposing front man boasts an impressive league record of 29 goals in 60 games, but it remains to be seen how long it takes for him to rediscover his scoring touch once back in the lineup.