Aston Villa's Leandro Bacuna singles out two key players in their relegation battle

The utility man believes both Christian Benteke and Charles N'Zogbia can be the two key figures in their survival bid.

Aston Villa’s Leandro Bacuna has told AVTV that he believes resurgent pair Christian Benteke and Charles N’Zogbia will prove vital during the club’s battle to avoid relegation.

After returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon in October, Benteke scored just three times in 19 total appearances under the since-departed Paul Lambert, with his performances paling in comparison to his goalscoring exploits during the previous two seasons.

N’Zogbia’s struggles, meanwhile, had been somewhat more long-running, having missed the entire 2013-14 season with an Achilles problem himself, as well as been tipped for a summer departure.

The creative midfielder was granted a second chance in preseason but, after failing to impress over the first half of the campaign, saw his first-team chances disappear in the months leading up to Lambert’s sacking.

The arrival of Tim Sherwood has led to a noticeable upturn in form for both, however, with Benteke netting four goals in the last four games and N’Zogbia adding a clear creative spark to the line-up from out wide.

With the weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Swansea ending their three-match winning run, Villa remain just three points above the drop zone but Bacuna is confident that his attacking teammates will help fire them to survival over the remaining eight Premier League games.

Asked about Benteke’s importance, the versatile Dutchman said: “He’s really important to the team. If he scores goals, it gets the whole team behind him. Players give him chances to score now, too, so it’s coming good.”

On N’Zogbia, he added: “I think he’s working hard at the moment. He’s got his chance as well. With him and all the other people in the squad, we’re all working hard together. We have a good team and we can go far.

“If he keeps working hard and playing his games then he’s going to be important for the team.

“The team is just together at the moment and all the players have great confidence.”

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch