In his pre-Newcastle press conference, Paul Lambert has given some very excellent news to Aston Villa fans: Christian Benteke will likely be ready earlier than we expected. We've been hearing that the Belgian striker has been doing more than would be expected at this point for a little over a month now, which leads me to trust what Lambert is saying.
While Lambert demurred from setting an actual timetable, it looks as if Benteke may actually be ready by the end of next month. If so, that would put the striker on pace to feature in Manchester City's trip to Villa Park in early October. While Villa have some acceptable stopgaps leading the attack, it would be fantastic to see their undisputed best scorer on the pitch as quickly as we can.
In addition to the good news about Benteke, Lambert also suggested that Libor Kozak is nearing a return to fitness as well. Kozak, of course, broke his leg in January. The injury severely limited Aston Villa's depth and proved nearly fatal when Benteke went down and the club were left with an offense that was anemic at best.
Given the ways in which the club has been improved over the summer, if they can tread water or even do well before the return of their first-choice strikers, we could actually see Villa surprise a few people as winter approaches.
Oh, and in case you've forgotten why we're all so eager to see Benteke back, enjoy this absolutely gratuitous gif: