Age is no barrier for Christian Benteke – as Palace boss explains why striker’s powers can peak for some time yet

Christian Benteke has been told he still has plenty of time to be at his peak of his powers as the Crystal Palace forward gets ready to return to former club Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

The forward scored 49 goals in 101 matches for the Midlands outfit and it led to a mega money switch to Liverpool in July 2015.

Benteke has struggled for goals in recent campaigns for the Eagles but has netted three times in his opening nine Premier League games this season.

And Hodgson feels that the 30-year-old’s career will be aided by the improvements made in the game in recent times.

The Eagles chief said: “We have to stop viewing ages. Players were quite commonly playing 60-70 matches and by the time they got to 30, if they started at 18 or 19, then they were starting to show serious signs of wear and tear.

“I don’t think that is the case anymore.

“There are less games and the sports science means the players are looked after so much better. We can expect players to be going on longer and we can expect between the ages of 27 to 32 possibly as being their best years – because they won’t have lost anything physically but will have all the knowledge and experience that playing every week gives them.

“He’s in an excellent period and it’s up to him to kick on. He’s started brightly. All we can do is encourage him to kick on and keep it going.”

Benteke has scored 26 goals in 124 games for Palace.

But Hodgson agreed with a question in his pre-Villa press conference that the Belgian international’s previous more prolific spells at other clubs show he can be a leading attacker in the top flight.

“We’ve always tried to take that line ourselves and made it clear that you don’t lose the ability to be a proper centre-forward, both in your link up play and scoring of goals.

“I can never question Christian’s desire to get back into the form he’s in at the moment. In training sessions, even when perhaps his confidence was low, he never stopped working and wanting to do the right things.

“I see it as a just reward for a player who has accepted largely through injury – because he didn’t get many solid runs of playing before the next one struck – that he has managed to put that behind him and is now focusing very heavily on doing well for Crystal Palace for the rest of this season.

“Hopefully I guess marking the card of Roberto [Martinez], his manager [at international level], to give him the chance to play in the Euros.”

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