Pitchside

Aston Villa count the cost of Benteke’s torn Achilles

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Christian Benteke's injury means he will miss the season run-in and the World Cup. But what is the financial cost for Aston Villa?

Data-driven insight platform Footballfanalytics.com shows how Benteke’s misfortune is a big setback for Villa, with Paul Lambert unable to field almost 40 per cent of the value of his squad, according to the latest Costly Injuries table.

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When Benteke tore his Achilles tendon at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground yesterday it ripped apart his World Cup dream.

And the big Belgian’s breakdown also has major implications for the remainder of Aston Villa’s season, with the Midlands outfit still not completely safe from the threat of relegation.

Back-to-back defeats have dragged them towards the drop zone and conceding eight in those two matches has put a large dent in their goals-against column.

With the 23-year-old’s strike partner Gabby Agbonlahor a doubt for tomorrow’s game at Craven Cottage - and Libor Kozak, Jores Okore, Charles N’Zogbia and Karim El Ahmadi also sidelined - Paul Lambert’s options are thin on the ground for the important visit to Fulham.

The Villa boss and the team’s fans will be counting down the 250-or-so days until Benteke’s predicted return in eight months’ time – and now they can also add up the cost, with data from Footballfanalytics.com showing that a whopping 39.2 per cent of the total value of the Villa squad is currently in the treatment room.

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Football Fanalytics’ Costly Injuries widget illustrates that, overnight, the West Midlands side have moved up to third in the table that no team wants to top, with £34m-worth of their £89m talent pool currently unavailable.

Before Benteke’s blow and Agbonlahor’s bug, Villa had just £13.2m of talent ruled out and the leap of £21.7m – or a 164% increase – shows just how reliant Lambert is on the pair, who have been responsible for 13 of their team’s 34 Premier League strikes this term.

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Not that the Scot is contemplating calling back flop Darren Bent, whose loan at the Cottage will be allowed to run its course until the end of the season.

An enforced re-shuffle may lead to Grant Holt getting a chance up top, with Villa’s own borrowed frontman potentially being promoted from the bench for only his second start, and first since Saturday, February 1, at Everton.

While Villa are slipping towards the bottom three, Fulham are firmly lodged in it, and Lambert’s opposite number Felix Magath is staring relegation in the face.

The recently-appointed German gaffer has injury problems of his own. Football Fanalytics’ Costly Injuries table shows that 23% of his squad value is currently unavailable:

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Bottom-of-the table Fulham have a distinct disadvantage against their immediate rivals in this department.

Gus Poyet’s Sunderland are a point and a place above the Cottagers in the Premier League and, as well as having two games in hand, the Uruguayan is only without 10.2 percent of his troops in monetary terms.

Meanwhile, down in South Wales, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has almost a full complement to choose from, with only 3.5 percent of his £64.5m-rated Cardiff City squad missing.

By 4.45pm on Saturday we’ll find out the instant cost of Benteke’s long-term injury for Villa – and whether his bad luck can boost Fulham’s survival hopes.

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