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Benteke a cool customer
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert insists there is no problem with Christian Benteke's temperament and expects the striker to handle any intimidation that comes his way in Saturday's Midlands derby at West Bromwich Albion.
Albion captain Chris Brunt had been quoted this week as saying the best way of handling Villa's star man is to "kick him", but Lambert thinks those comments were only "tongue-in-cheek".
Listen, I don't think about that," he was quoted on Sky Sports.
"As long as Christian keeps playing the way he has been for me, we'll concentrate on our own team and our own lads.
"I'm pretty sure if he [Brunt] has said that, it was tongue-in-cheek.
"I know exactly where he's coming from, so there's no problem with that. Christian is playing really well at the moment."
Bentke has only recently returned from a three-match suspension following his straight red against Tottenham Hotspur, but Lambert insists that was a one-off event.
"I don't think he'll do it again," he added. "Christian is cool and calm enough to handle that."
Benteke given praise
Villa have also picked up maximum points since Benteke's return, with wins over Crystal Palace and Leicester City, respectively and goalkeeper Shay Given is expecting more of the same against West Brom with the Belgian in the line-up.
"Having big Christian back as well is a big boost," he told the club's official website. "He has a real presence in the team.
"He'll probably be disappointed that he didn't score in the Leicester game but it's not just goals that he brings to our team.
"His all-round play, how he holds it up, brings players like Gabby with his pace and other players into the game is so important.
"He's a big player for us. It's great to have him back."
Villa ramp up search for talent
Villa will be hoping to add more star quality alongside Benteke in the coming months, and new chief executive Tom Fox has been busy outlining their plans in an exclusive interview with the Birmingham Mail.
Fox, who arrived from Arsenal in August to replace the outgoing Paul Faulkner, said: “We want to both build a football organisation that can get us to a place where we’re making fantastic decisions on young players coming in, developing them in our system and making them ready for the first team.
“Also we want to find players within the global football market to help the squad. What we’ve done on the football side is make Sean Kimberley head of the academy. He’s also hired a head of recruitment for the academy.
“Paddy Reilly is our director of recruiting overall at Bodymoor Heath and Paddy has hired a whole new scouting network on a full-time basis to cover the whole world."
Bent impressing new teammates
Darren Bent may not feature in Villa's plans moving forward, but the striker has been impressing his new Brighton & Hove Albion teammates since arriving on a month-long loan deal last month.
The ex-England international scored on his debut against former club Fulham, before having a goal disallowed in the 3-0 defeat at Championship leaders Derby County, and fellow loanee Elliott Bennett believes his goals will fire the Seagulls up the table.
"He is a natural finisher, loves to score goals," the winger told the Argus.
"If you watched him in training, as soon as we go out there he gets the ball and puts it in the net, because that's what he enjoys doing. He's like a kid really.
"It's the first time I've really come across Darren and I am really impressed by the way he trains, the way he carries himself. He's not here with any ego, he's here to help the team and score goals.
"You can see that in training and especially after training. He's doing his extras, he doesn't come in and go home which he easily could do. We are talking about someone who has played for England.
"I look up to him and think 'Wow, what a career'. If I could have half the career he's had I'd be very happy. He's definitely here with a very big appetite to score goals."