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Dec 20, 2012

N'Zogbia hails Benteke impact

Charles N'Zogbia has warned Christian Benteke to be prepared to handle being a marked man in the Premier League.

Villa winger N'Zogbia has become one of Benteke's closest allies since the Belgian arrived from Genk for £7m in the summer and has been impressed at the way in which the striker has adapted to the game in England.

• Blog: World waking up to Benteke

Benteke has scored eight league and cup goals and is being talked about as one of the key signings of the season, but N'Zogbia has told him he has to be prepared for defenders trying to cut him down to size because of his growing reputation.

"With the size he has and the way he can hold the ball for the team, he's important, but I told him that in England the defenders won't laugh at you, trust me, you'll end up with a head cut or something," said N.Zogbia.

"He has to make sure that every single ball he goes for he has to go for it 100 per cent. Now he knows. He's brave enough to do that though, he has the size and the strength.

"He's made a big impact but he's a young kid and this is his first year in the Premier League. So he'll still have to learn how to play against different defenders. They are really strong and it's going to be a massive challenge."

N'Zogbia feels Benteke has the mental as well as physical strength to deal with the focus he will be under for the rest of the season, especially when Villa travel to Chelsea on Sunday trying to extend a six-game unbeaten run.

He watched Benteke waste chances in his early games and saw the striker's ability questioned in the early days at Villa Park, but it never affected the 22-year-old.

"If you have a bad day you have to make sure you forget about it. The next day is the most important. If he's thinks about a miss, he has to say 'okay, I missed it'. Maybe the next time he won't miss it, he'll learn from his mistakes.

"He's quiet, a normal guy, he just wants to play and enjoy his football. I've helped him settle, he's asked me how things are done at the club. He'll be cool."

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