Christian Benteke hasn’t been able to regain a first team starting place in the last couple of matches after picking up a groin injury before the recent away game at Bournemouth.
But he has been on the bench in the last couple of games and will be hoping to get a starting eleven place in one of the remaining games of the season as he looks to push for a place in the Belgium World Cup squad in the summer.
Roy Hodgson has seen Benteke score just two goals in his 28 appearances this season with his last being at West Ham in January but the manager has seen enough from the 27 year old to know it’s not for the want of trying.
“This season I feel sorry for him because he’s tried his hardest and I can’t complain about his attitude, desire or his work rate in games and he is working hard to improve all aspects of his game as well.
“Centre-forwards, especially those that cost quite a lot of money, are judged on one thing and one thing alone, ‘how many goals can you show as a return for the club’s investment in you’? and if you are not scoring those goals the problem just gets magnified and made worse with every passing game and it is a vicious circle, self-perpetuating and the only way to stop it is to get back in the team and when he gets back, score goals and convert the chances that come his way.
“He hasn’t been able to do that this season but I must say, to anyone that doubts him, it isn’t for the want of trying but is just one of those things that football players go through.”
The manager is still hoping that when he sees Belgian take part in the World Cup he will be checking on the progress of his striker at international level but Hodgson knows that chances are limited for Benteke to make the final cut.
"The squad going to Russia will be 23 strong and there is a lot of competition for places and they are hard to come by. Unfortunately If you want one there is nothing your club coach can do to help you as it’s up to you to play so well in the games that the people who decide who goes, the national team manager and his coaching staff, decide they want to pick you.
"So however much sympathy I have for players who haven’t been able to show that form that they would have liked to have showed or get the chances to play that they would have wanted that I haven’t been able to give them it is just a fact of football life.
"It is the clubs that pay the wages and the national teams that supply the glamour and if you want that glamour and big prizes of major competitions then you have got to be playing well enough to impress upon the national team manager that you are the right man for the job.
"I still hope that Christian can do that and they find a place for him because he hasn’t lost any of his ability and all the quality that he possesses."
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