Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has stressed that Christian Benteke will have to fight for a spot in the lineup once he returns to full fitness.
The Belgian international has been sidelined since April, after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon during a practice session, but is now nearing a return to action after resuming first-team training this week.
However, with Villa sitting second in the Premier League table, having taken 10 points from their opening four games, Lambert maintains that he will not be walking straight back into the starting XI.
‘It is a massive boost,’ he told the Birmingham Mail. ‘He’s done all the work we've asked of him and there’s been no adverse reaction.
‘But we still have to be careful with him and he knows he’s going to have to work hard to get back in the side right now.’
While Villa might have coped well without Benteke so far, Lambert’s side have also recorded just six shots on target this season, and news that he could return at the end of the month should be seen as a much needed boost for the attack.
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, and fans will hope that he can rediscover that scoring touch once back on the pitch.