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Vital forward Christian Benteke key to Aston Villa’s survival hopes

Belgium international striker Christian Benteke has regained his previously ferocious form and is now Aston Villa’s key component in fighting to avoid Premier League relegation this season.

The towering Villa Park frontman hit a sublime hat-trick in a recent clash with fellow top-flight strugglers QPR, helping to secure a crucial point to climb two places and three points above the dreaded drop zone.

Newly appointed Villa boss Tim Sherwood is ecstatic to have his striker back to top form, having managed to bring out the best in the Belgian bruiser, as the 24-year-old continues to fire the Villans towards safety this current campaign, with the club now 11/4 with Coral to go down.

“Christian was very good (against QPR). The second goal especially was excellent,” said Sherwood.

“We need him between now and the end of the season, but it was disappointing to give away cheap, scruffy goals.”

Benteke is proving his worth again at Villa Park, with his latest goalscoring exploits securing a vital draw, a result which could potentially decide if the club retain their top-flight status or feature in the Championship next term.

“It might be a very important point. Only time will tell, but we need to win games. I wouldn’t like to guess how many points we’re going to need. It is a point in the right direction though,” continued Sherwood.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Aston Villa v Queens Park Rangers - Villa Park

There is no question that in-form Benteke holds the key to Villa’s survival bid (odds-on 2/9 to stay up), but whether they stay up or face a dismal drop to the second tier, can they hold on to their star man either way?

The Belgium international finisher reached double figures for the campaign with his terrific treble on home soil, meaning he has now struck an incredible eight times in his last seven outings for club and country, having also netted in a recent 5-0 Euro 2016 qualifying thrashing of Cyprus.

With the next big international tournament being hosted in France next summer, Benteke will be aiming to feature regularly in a top class club set-up next season, something he will be unlikely to receive even if Villa stay up, and will definitely not obtain if they drop divisions.

Regular Europa League competitors Tottenham once expressed an interest in his services, and could revisit that curiosity in the summer to boost attacking options alongside Harry Kane, although a move abroad may fit the Villa sharpshooter’s career requirements more suitably.

With Belgium boasting an array of attacking talent, which helped fire them to the World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil last summer, clinical finisher Benteke will hope to blast his current employers to safety before focusing on a solid spot in Marc Wilmots’ national team.