Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has backed Christian Benteke to hit top form once the Belgian striker spends more time on the pitch.
Benteke made his debut for the club in the 2-0 League Cup win against Blackpool but was substituted at half time by Connor Wickham, who netted Palace’s second goal.
Pardew, who also handed goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and James Tomkins their first starts for Palace, hoped Benteke could recapture the form he was in during his Aston Villa tenure when he scored 49 goals in 101 appearances.
“I thought he showed flashes of why we spent a club record fee on him. He hasn’t had a lot of match action and even though we were on the side of a caution with him tonight he looks really good,” Pardew told the club’s website.
“I want Christian to get to the level where he was prior to Liverpool. He didn’t play enough there, but he’ll get a flow of games here.”
Pardew felt the arrival of Benteke has allowed Wickham to operate with more freedom.
“With Christian’s arrival he has had a bit of a weight lifted from him, he was fresher, sharper and looked better for it,” he added.
Pardew also hoped that with the return of midfielders Yohan Cabaye and James McArthur, his side could get back to winning ways after losing both their opening league games.
“We’ve known in the first two games we have been missing players and it is nice to see them back and it has been a good night for us, we’ve come through it and we can set ourselves up now for the game at the weekend,” he added.
Palace next host Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.