Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke has been on a barren run of form in front of goal this season and now, having been dropped from the Belgium squad by manager Roberto Martinez, reports in their local press are suggesting that he’s unlikely to win it back in time for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Still waiting for his first home goal of the campaign despite the fact that we’re now well into the second half of March, you can hardly blame Martinez for biting the bullet and leaving him out of the latest squad, regardless of his pedigree. Having been relentlessly compared to his fellow countryman Romelu Lukaku in recent years, even the most ardent of Palace fans would admit that the pair are streets apart in front of goal so far this term.
Whilst a lot of players often choose to blame their exclusion from the national team on the stature of the club they play for, Benteke cannot grumble about Palace’s reputation in relation to this particular snub, with his own goal tally so far this term the only reason why he isn’t a nailed on member of the group with months to go until the World Cup finally gets underway.
After being taken off at half-time against Chelsea, there was a visible difference in Benteke’s work-rate from the first kick until the last against Huddersfield last weekend, with his dropping possibly providing the sort of rocket necessary to jolt the big man out of his season-long slumber and into action.
If Roberto Martinez’s decision to leave him out provokes a tangible change of fortunes for Christian in front of goal, I’m sure I won’t be the only one keen to thank him the next time he makes an appearance in SE25. You’d like to think that a player who is selected week in, week out at the head of a side would always put in 100% but for me, there has been more than one occasion this season when Benteke hasn’t been bursting a lung to help the team out.
Let’s hope his tireless shift up in Huddersfield will now become the new norm. You never know, a goal in front of our home supporters may be all he needs to set him on a run which helps us secure safety before the high drama of the closing day.