Manager Paul Lambert believes the return of Christian Benteke has added a real fear factor to Aston Villa’s line-up, but stresses that it will take some time before the star striker is up to full speed.
The Belgian international made his long-awaited comeback from a ruptured Achilles as a 61st-minute substitute in Villa’s 2-0 home defeat to Manchester City earlier this month, before playing 81 minutes in the recent 3-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.
However, while Lambert thinks just seeing his name on the team sheet is enough to unsettle opponents, he warns that it might take up to six games before the imposing front man is back to best.
‘It won't happen straight away. He's just coming back. It may take him half a dozen games to get back and right up to speed,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘There will be times when you'll think he's back to his old self and there will also be times where he'll look like a lad that's not played for a length of time.
‘But when you put Benteke on your team sheet it makes people think. It doesn't matter how long he's been out, he's still a threat.’
Villa will no doubt hope Benteke can rediscover his past form sooner, however, having failed to find the back of the net in four successive league defeats, which leaves them sitting 15th in the table with 10 points from eight matches.
The club’s undisputed talisman has netted 34 times in 69 total appearances since arriving from Genk in August 2012 for £7 million, but Lambert maintains that his side can produce enough goals from elsewhere.
‘I've got no issues on the goalscoring front,’ he said.
‘Against Everton, we had Kieran Richardson, Tom Cleverley, Charles N'Zogbia, Christian Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor on the pitch - five players that have goals in them.
'We will be certainly okay in that department when the season settles down. I have no worries on that front.
‘Libor Kozak is still to come back which will also give us a boost.’