Having felt our collective hearts drop as soon as Christian Benteke fell to the turf of The Etihad Stadium in September, the sight of the Belgian taking part in full first-team training yesterday should put a smile back on everyone’s face.
Without him at the head of the side, Roy Hodgson has been forced to experiment with the likes of Zaha, Townsend and Bakary Sako taking up roles as stand-in strikers but now, with a two-week break until Premier League action resumes, the hope is that Christian will be fit and raring to go when Everton visit Selhurst Park in mid-November.
Whilst some have been questioning what sort of a difference he’ll make to the side given his lack of form prior to being sidelined up in Manchester, the 17 goals he bagged for us last term should give everyone more than enough belief of him coming up big for us once again in the run-up to Christmas.
Although it was never spoken about publicly by the club, plenty of fans had noticed that Benteke had been playing with strapping around his knee prior to his injury, raising questions over his general fitness leading up to the lay-off. Without any other out-and-out strikers to choose from, Roy Hodgson had little option but to play him and cross his fingers but now, with the January transfer window in sight, he and his coaches will just be hoping that the big man can battle through without too many bumps and bruises until January.
It’s easy to say without him there to tuck away the chances but the team appear to have got their mojo back during the time that Christian has been on the treatment table. Thanks to a string of four much improved performances in recent weeks we are creating goalscoring opportunities aplenty, leading me to believe that the Belgian international will soon rediscover his form when introduced back into the side.
For now, all we can hope for is a trouble-free fortnight which sees the big man continue his recovery unhindered, with Zaha, Loftus-Cheek and the other players away on international duty coming back fit and full of confidence ahead of a run of eight games which are more than likely to define our season.