Benitez set to start against Villa

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Football News

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is poised to hand a first Barclays Premier League start to striker Christian Benitez in Sunday's Second City derby with Aston Villa at St Andrew's.

Benitez, signed on an initial season-long loan from Santos Laguna, has impressed as a substitute during the opening phase of the season.

McLeish said: "I've felt in recent weeks that Christian was more effective as an impact player."

He added: "But that may change in a week's time (against Villa). If I can't play him at home, then I will never play him.

"I am pleased with his introduction so far and we have worked hard on his fitness.

"When he came here, he was behind the rest - along with Giovanny Espinoza - in fitness terms.

"Christian is at a good level now and looking dangerous and I think he is going to be a great acquisition to the club."

McLeish will check on Benitez's physical condition when he comes back from a World Cup double header with his country before making a final decision.

He was in action in Colombia at the weekend and Ecuador will tackle Bolivia in midweek.

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