AVB aware of Benteke threat
Andre Villas-Boas has backed Christian Benteke to help Aston Villa challenge for a place in Europe this season.
Tottenham head to Villa Park on Sunday where they will come up against the striker who was strongly linked with a move to White Hart Lane this summer.
Benteke scored 23 goals in a blockbuster first season for the Midlands side, but he handed in a transfer request amid interest from Spurs and a number of top European clubs.
Luckily for Villa, Benteke decided to stay and he has since gone on to score five goals in six matches this term.
Villas-Boas took little notice of Benteke during a brief encounter when Porto played Genk three years ago, but the Tottenham manager now regards the striker as one of the best in the Barclays Premier League.
"He is showing all his potential at the moment," Villas-Boas said.
"We have seen how he acts as a direct striker for Villa and he is scoring goals. Villa with him in the team are a different proposition.
"They see an increase in confidence up front of a great striker, who has great career ahead. The goals he's scored have shown that."
Ever the master of detail and preparation, Villas-Boas says he has "information" that Benteke has recovered from his hip problem and will play in Sunday's game.
Villa coped well without their star striker against Manchester City, but they looked blunt at Hull, where they drew 0-0.
After a rollercoaster of a season last year, Villa have made a decent start this term, winning three of their opening seven matches.
Paul Lambert's men currently stand 10th in the table, but Villas-Boas believes Sunday's opponents have the potential to finish inside the top five.
"Paul Lambert deserves credit for the amount of youngsters he is bringing through," the Portuguese added.
"I see them stepping up and charging for European places in the end."
Jan Vertonghen has spent the last two weeks training alongside Benteke with Belgium, but their friendship will be put on hold for 90 minutes on Sunday.
The defender was part of the Tottenham team that put four past Villa in the Capital One Cup last month. However, with Benteke back, he expects to be in for a busier afternoon this time around.
"He is so important for Villa," said Vertonghen, who somehow avoided a red card for pulling Nicklas Helenius' shorts down in the 4-0 win.
"He is an unbelievable player so it will be a different Villa to the one we played in the Capital One Cup."
It has been quite a fortnight for Vertonghen and his Belgium team-mates, who secured their place at the World Cup with a win over Croatia.
"It was unbelievable, the whole country lived the game with us," the defender told Spurs TV Online.
"It was the first time in 12 years that we have qualified for a World Cup or European Championship.
"Everyone always talks about us being a good team with lots of talent, but we have dealt with the pressure and made it.
"It was a great relief because not making the World Cup with this squad would have been painful."
Villas-Boas and the Tottenham players who were not called up for international duty have had a painful fortnight of their own.
The Portuguese suffered the heaviest home defeat of his Spurs reign before the international break, losing 3-0 to bitter rivals West Ham.
Vertonghen wants to see a response from his team-mates at Villa.
"Villa is a very tough team, especially away, but we have shown before we can win there and everyone is very determined to bounce back," he said.
Villas-Boas has Aaron Lennon available following his recovery from a foot injury, but the Tottenham manager is likely to stick with Andros Townsend, who signed a new improved contract on Friday after his heroics with England.