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The numbers behind Arsenal's striker search


Lambert wants Benteke 'common sense'

Injured Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke will link up with the Belgium squad next week, with his club manager Paul Lambert saying he hopes "common sense prevails".

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Benteke, 22, has been sidelined with a hip problem suffered during Villa's win at Norwich a fortnight ago and is still at least two weeks from being fit to return.

Lambert said he was happy for the player to report for duty, with Belgium a point away from securing qualification for Brazil 2014.

"Christian has got to go," he said. "He's obliged to go. If we don't let him and he plays for us, they can invoke the five-day ruling.

"I think the whole thing is a mockery. It suits some things and not others. But I trust Christian to make the right decision for himself as a footballer. You are hoping common sense prevails and that Belgium understand our view.

"I have known Marc Wilmots [Belgium's coach] since I played against him in German football, and I spoke to him last year when I signed Christian.

"Christian is stuck in the middle. I've had a good conversation with him and he knows himself what’s right for him. I wouldn't have any worries on that front."

Lambert said Belgium had other striking options to call upon, "like [Romelu] Lukaku, who is doing well at Everton", adding: "I wouldn't be happy if Christian played a game for Belgium and came back injured when he's doing ever so well. That's when I would get annoyed."

Benteke has already added to the 28 goals he scored last season with five in the early weeks of this, having been persuaded in the summer to commit himself to a new Villa Park deal after initially submitting a transfer request.


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