Aston Villa V Everton at Villa Park : Match Preview
Aston Villa V Everton - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.
Lambert wanted Lukaku and Benteke
Paul Lambert has revealed Belgium team-mates Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke could have been playing together for Aston Villa against Everton this weekend instead of against each other.
The strikers are close friends and form one of Europe's most fearsome forward lines for their country but on Saturday they square off against each other in the Barclays Premier League.
Villa boss Lambert said this week that he originally tried to sign Lukaku on loan from Chelsea in the summer of 2012 only to be thwarted by the player's high wages.
Lukaku spent a season at neighbours West Brom instead, before being sent out on loan again this summer, this time to Everton.
"I remember when I first came in here I spoke to Chelsea about Lukaku before we saw Christian," said Lambert.
"I knew about him and this club needed somebody to be that type of player.
"Obviously we couldn't afford that at that time and Christian came in and the rest is history, as they say. They're totally different players but the two of them are a threat."
Asked whether Benteke was signed because he could not land Lukaku, Lambert said: "No, no. I would have tried to get Christian as well, probably.
"What would they have been like together? Expensive! You don't know, you really don't know, but they're two powerful lads.
"I'm not so sure they're similar. They're two young guys who are making a career for themselves."
The Scot confirmed Benteke is fully recovered from his recent hip injury and ready to start against the Toffees on Saturday after coming on from the bench in last week's defeat by Tottenham.
He said: "He's fine. He only trained three or four days in a month, it's just not enough to put him into that scale of a game last weekend and we didn't want to re-injure him or anything like that.
"It was the right thing to bring him on and he might have had a chance and might have scored on another day but his contribution was okay.
"There's no pressure on me to start him. Not at all. I know what I get from him and the main thing for me was he was fully fit to be selected.
"Libor Kozak has done really well for us in absence of Christian so I've got a problem, to pick whoever I want to pick."
Centre-half Ciaran Clark is also in contention to return to the starting XI after missing the Spurs fixture due to illness.
Everton defender Johnny Heitinga is a doubt for the clash.
Toffees boss Roberto Martinez revealed the Holland international suffered tissue damage in training and has rated his chances of being involved at Villa Park as 50/50.
Steven Pienaar will be pushing for a start after recovering from a hamstring problem to score from the bench against Hull last weekend, but Antolin Alcaraz (hernia) and Darron Gibson (knee) remain sidelined.
Martinez is learning more about Belgian strikers every day working with Lukaku and so he is rightly wary of another in Villa's Benteke.
"I think he has been an impressive signing," said the Spaniard.
"Looking at his contribution last season it was more than significant in Villa's record in the league and you can see what he brings to the crowd and what he means to everyone at Villa.
"Clearly Villa with Benteke on the pitch is a bigger threat and we will have to be very wary of that."
Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, and Benteke both have four Premier League goals this season but Martinez believes that is where the similarity ends.
"They are very different and Belgium as a national team are very fortunate to have two players of that quality," he added.
"They are two players that they can even play together in the same side and in their way they can be very effective and very much the focal point of any attacking team.
"They are two sensational strikers facing each other."
Lukaku agreed with his manager over the difference in his game to that of his compatriot.
"He has a more aerial threat, a back-to-goal player, and I'm more of a runner who likes to do one v ones," he told evertontv.
"He makes the team all get up and makes everyone around him play. I expect a lot of things from him."
Everton have not lost to the midlanders in their past five meetings and Martinez is keen for that run to be extended.
"We won't underestimate their quality, that's for sure," he said.
"Anyone who can beat Arsenal or Manchester City deserves huge credit. When they have everyone fit and available, they are as good as anyone on their day."
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