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Benteke on the bench?

Paul Lambert had a few words to say about Christian Benteke after Aston Villa's draw with Sunderland. But what, exactly, did the manager mean?

Chris Brunskill

Paul Lambert stated that Christian Benteke "wasn't up to scratch" on Saturday and admitted the striker may be dropped to the bench. It was the talk of the town on Monday morning, with most Aston Villa supporters agreeing that, after seven games without a goal, it's time for the Belgian to spend some time with the substitutes.

But Lambert replying to a question about whether Benteke would be continued to be named in the starting XI with, "You can never guarantee anybody anything," isn't exactly equivalent to the manager saying "Benteke isn't cutting it and he's got to be dropped."

Why? Well, let's take a look at Aston Villa's schedule for December:

4 December: at Southampton

8 December: at Fulham

15 December: Manchester United

21 December: at Stoke City

26 December: Crystal Palace

28 December: Swansea

1 January: at Sunderland

Ok, that last one's not in December, but close enough. That's seven games in four weeks. There's two games with just one day of rest. Um, thanks, schedule gods? The point is, there's no way Lambert's not going to be employing some sort of squad rotation, here. Even if the striker was scoring a goal per match, Benteke isn't going to be starting each of those seven matches.

In fact, if you read further into the article, Lambert suggests that perhaps it won't be the next match when Benteke is dropped: "We’ll have to make sure see what happens in the next game and keep him at it." It almost sounds as if the manager wants more for the Belgian to have his confidence back, than to have him sitting on the bench in the game at St. Mary's.

What's clear, though, is that there's going to be some changes made to the starting lineup over the month. Lambert said that every player will have a part to play in December, and that everyone will be expected to make a contribution. Except Alan Hutton, of course. Where is that guy, anyway? Just chilling in Scotland?

So Benteke will obviously spend some time on the bench. But will he be up top from the start against Southampton? And should he be? Share your thoughts with us.