Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke has admitted that his frustration over his long-term absence with a ruptured Achilles might have been a factor in his recent red card.
Benteke, 23, returned to action last month after being sidelined since April and missing the World Cup, but the Belgian international is still to rediscover his past impressive form, looking off the pace in three starts and one substitute appearance so far.
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The imposing front man is now serving a three-game domestic ban after shoving Tottenham Hotspur’s Ryan Mason in the face during the 2-1 defeat at Villa Park a week last Sunday, and he concedes that perhaps he is still struggling to come to terms with the disappointment of not going to Brazil.
“When you come back from a long injury, it’s frustrating,” he told Sky Sports News HQ.
“I needed - not to be hard - but to be maybe a little bit more level.
“It was tough to learn that I would miss the World Cup, especially when it is your first big injury.
“Now, after this little break, I know I can be stronger than before. I will come back and be at my old level.”
Villa certainly need Benteke to get back to his old level, having mustered only five goals, 101 shots and 30 shots on target so far this season – all Premier League-worst figures.
Having netted 34 times in 71 total appearances since arriving from Genk in August 2012 for £7 million, there remains considerable pressure on the club’s star man to lead the team out of their current slump, and one hopes those expectations don’t become too much for him to bear.