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Villa to wait on Benteke future - Lambert

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has said the futures of striker Christian Benteke and other first-teamers will not be discussed until the club's survival battle has been resolved.

Benteke's goals are crucial to Villa's hopes of staying in the top flight for a 26th consecutive year, but Lambert denied that any new or extended deal for the Belgian had been agreed.

• Hughes: Villa anxious to get job done

"I heard somebody say we have promised him a new contract if we stay up," he said. "I wasn't part of that conversation.

"I've never had one conversation with him about contracts. But I'm sure that, at the end of the season, we'll sit down, not just with Chris, but with others.

"Nobody visualised the way he has been. He's the one who has done it; he has been a credit to himself and to the team. The most important thing is the league, though, and to get to the end of the season."

Benteke's form, coupled with the performances of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann, is keeping Darren Bent in the shade, with Villa's record scorer again likely to have a peripheral role when Fulham travel to the Midlands on Saturday.

The striker came on as a late substitute in last weekend's victory at Stoke, and seems sure to be on the bench again.

Lambert's only selection worry is Republic of Ireland defender Ciaran Clark, who has a shoulder problem. He will be assessed after returning to training on Thursday, but midfielder Marc Albrighton has an ankle problem.

Villa legend Paul McGrath has said he believes the club need six more points to be safe, but Lambert refused to set targets and said: "We've pulled people above us into it, which is what you try to do.

"We have to try to win on Saturday and look after ourselves. There's no point in looking to others for favours.

"The way we played at Stoke was fantastic, but it's gone now. As soon as one game has finished, let it go as quick as you can and move on to the next one.

"If we can win on Saturday, we will be three points behind Fulham - and a lot of teams are looking over their shoulder."

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