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Mar 30, 2013

Lambert tips Benteke, Weimann to stay

Paul Lambert insists Aston Villa will hang on to Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann into next season, amid rumours both players could be sold in the summer.

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The two in-form forwards are among the club's best hopes of avoiding the drop and the manager believes they both want to be around in the Second City for the 2013-14 season.

"I think they will both be with us next season," he said, when asked about the possibility of their talents being snatched away this summer. "I have spoken to them and I don't think that (selling them) would be building for any kind of future.

"There's no point building something if a year later that occurs. That's what I don't want to happen. I don't want to go back to square one.

"Randy Lerner has been great with me and everyone knows the situation. If bids came in, I think he would say we need to keep them."

Lambert spells out, as a means of explaining why big-club interest may not yet translate into firm offers, that the duo "have done it for seven months, not seven years".

He has been delighted with their progress, although the consequences on their future of Villa being relegated might be altogether different.

Benteke has scored 17 times for Villa in his debut season in English football and attracted interest from, among others, Arsenal and Tottenham. Talks with Weimann over a contract extension, meanwhile, have not yet reached agreement.

"Andi, Christian, Gabby Agbonlahor and even Charles N'Zogbia have been performing really well," he added in the countdown to Sunday's home game against Liverpool. "We have goals in us.

"Everyone knows about Andi's enthusiasm and he has added goals to it. Christian has been excellent. His goal ratio is extremely high.

"He can also play. He has excellent touch but you can't always make him your focal point. He has played so much football, a hell of a lot. He is a top guy.

"I'm not sure he bullied Liverpool at Anfield in December. If you say that, it can take away from his other attributes. Everybody will remember his back-heel to Andi and he is a very good player. Andi Weimann is a natural finisher. Every time he gets a chance, I think he will score.

"You would like to think they have bought into the philosophy. You don't want them to become comfortable. Keep them hungry.

"Christian might have taken a year or 18 months to settle in and we wouldn't have been having this conversation. The main focus is to stay in the League and keep building it. The year's experience will certainly help them. They will be better for it."

Benteke has also netted twice for Belgium this season and three times for his previous club Genk. Villa will go into the Liverpool game back in the bottom three if Wigan beat Norwich at the DW Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

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