Spurs star eyes showdown with international team-mate at Villa Park

Jan Vertonghen has warned his defensive colleagues that they will have be at their best at Villa Park today as they prepare to face his fellow Belgian Christian Benteke.

Benteke arrived from Genk for �7million in the summer and, after a slow start, is now finding his feet in the Premier League.

The 22-year-old forward has scored eight goals for Villa in all competitions, while also finding the net on the international stage with strikes against Serbia and Scotland in October’s World Cup qualifiers.

“He is very good in the air and he can score,” said Vertonghen. “He will be a very tough player to play against. I know him quite well from Belgium - the league and the national team. It doesn’t surprise me that he has done well.

“He now feels the confidence of the team, the crowd and the manager, and in the last two or three games for the national team he was very good. I think that Aston Villa made the right choice to sign him.”

Meanwhile, having spent most of the season as a stand-in left-back, Vertonghen admits he is looking forward to Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s return from injury as he eyes a permanent spot in the centre of the defence.

“It will be good to have Benoit back - but not only for that reason as he is one of the best left-backs in the league and I hope he’ll be fit soon,” said Vertonghen. “It’s been frustrating for me [playing left-back] and the manager knows that.

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“He knows that I prefer centre-back and that is enough for me. He’s respectful to me regarding my position and he tells me whenever I need to play left-back, and I want to help the team.

“I love to attack and, against Stoke, I had a few good crosses but unfortunately no assist.

“If you play the way that I want to play as a centre-back, I think my influence is better as a centre-back than as a left-back – that’s why I want to play there and I think it’s best for the team that I play as a centre-back.

“I like to bring the ball out. If you look at the game against Stoke they dropped in and you need to move the game quickly, and that is one of my qualities as well.”

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