Saturday 16 December 2017

Benteke's welcome return for Villa

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph celebrate at the end of the match
Aston Villa's Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph celebrate at the end of the match

Christian Benteke is set to return for Aston Villa's crunch relegation clash with Sunderland.

The striker missed last weekend's 2-0 FA Cup quarter final win over West Brom with a hip injury but will be in the squad for the trip to the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

Villa are a place above the Premier League relegation zone and a point behind the Black Cats ahead of the game with Benteke looking to return. Boss Tim Sherwood said: "He's still feeling it. He'll be in the squad, we'll give him as much time as we can to get him fit, but we changed it around and the boys came in did well.

"We're not always looking for one guy. It's a team effort, we have to attack together and defend together. There is no onus on one person to score the goals.

"I don't think Christian feels the pressure, it doesn't look like it. All I need to know is when he'll be back fit and he's got an opportunity to be fit for this weekend."

Libor Kozak has returned to first-team training after being out for over a year with a broken leg but Kieran Richardson (calf) is a doubt while Philippe Senderos (calf) is out and Jack Grealish and Alan Hutton are banned.

Villa are still awaiting the results of an English Football Association and police investigation into crowd trouble during the FA Cup win over the Baggies but Sherwood wants to focus on their key game at Sunderland.

Sherwood added: "It didn't take the shine off it for me and the players. We just concentrate on the football side and other people can deal with the aftermath. I haven't looked into it too much.

"All I'm concentrating on is focusing the boys on the next one which is Sunderland away."