Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke motivated by Belgium snub to help Eagles stay up
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 30/03/18 11:01am
Christian Benteke has two reasons to find form in the final seven games of the season - with Premier League survival and a place in Belgium's World Cup squad on the line.
Benteke was dropped from Roberto Martinez's 27-man squad for Belgium's friendly with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, having scored only twice for Crystal Palace this season - to date, the worst return of his domestic career.
Palace take on Liverpool on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 11.30am, having jumped out of the bottom three following their 2-0 win at Huddersfield before the international break.
Perhaps the two-week break enforced on the 27-year-old, who says he deserved to be overlooked, is no bad thing; but he is determined to use it as extra motivation for the rest of the season and keep Palace above the surface.
"It's the first time I've not been selected in the squad since I first joined, so it was difficult," he said. "I spoke with the manager, who called me straight away after, and talked to me about it. I think it's fair, what he said, but it's between him and me.
"Of course, it gives me more motivation. Only more goals will help me to get back to where I want to be. Roy [Hodgson] gives us a lot of confidence in our play, we are more compact and more solid in our shape too."
Benteke feels his meagre tally is not a fair reflection of his performances for the Eagles this season, and he is in no denial about how his return is perceived outside of Selhurst Park.
But equally, for a striker who has missed out on a double-figure scoring record only once since he arrived in English football in 2012, he is acutely aware of what needs to change in his game.
He said: "I feel that I'm more involved in the games than last season. Then, of course I scored more goals, but I wasn't involved in the play as much.
"It's a shame I can't find the net. I can feel I'm working more for the team, but people will look at whether I'm scoring or not. With a few more goals, my stats would be much better than now - but I just need to score.
"The Palace fans have been really good with me, even in my tough times, so I want them to just support us and I will do everything I can, and the team will to, to stay up."