Christian Benteke opened the scoring for Crystal Palace during yesterday evening’s 6-1 win over Halmstads but went off just minutes later with a knock to his knee, prompting Roy Hodgson to give an update on the Belgian’s fitness when speaking to the press afterwards.
Thankfully, the big man walked off the pitch under his own steam and was also seen walking to the coach after the game, giving both Roy and the club’s medical staff hope that it was nothing too serious. Had it been a Premier League match he may well have been able to continue but in pre-season games such as yesterday’s there is little to no point in taking the risk.
Understandably, Palace supporters are on high-alert when it comes to Benteke’s fitness, thanks to the sizeable chunk of time he spent out of action with a different knee problem last term. Having struggled massively for form in front of goal throughout the 2017/18 campaign, his goal had started fans dreaming of a triumphant comeback for the former Aston Villa hotshot, only for fans’ enthusiasm to be dampened by his withdrawal moments later.
Initially paired up top with the similarly large frame of Alexander Sørloth, Benteke was replaced by Sullay Kaikai, who grasped the opportunity afforded to him with both hands. The Palace academy man looked lively throughout and managed to get on the score-sheet after drifting past two defenders and drilling a venomous strike beyond the goalkeeper from all of 20 yards shortly before the interval.
Whilst there are high hopes for the likes of Sørloth and the returning Connor Wickham, it is Benteke who many feel is truly set to prove his doubters wrong over the next nine months or so. Confidence is big for any striker and in Christian’s world, it seems like an all-important factor. Hopefully he will be fine to continue playing throughout pre-season before hitting the ground running on the opening day of the season against Fulham.
It would be fantastic to see the big man back amongst the goals after watching him suffer so much last term and with yesterday’s strike coming from his feet rather than his head, things certainly seem to be looking up.