Pardew denies Benteke Jnr is Christian favour

Sarah Winterburn

Alan Pardew has insisted Jonathan Benteke is capable of partnering Christian up front for Crystal Palace, and has dismissed suggestions he was recruited to help his older brother settle.

Christian Benteke became Palace’s club-record signing last month when he arrived for £27million from Liverpool.

He first came to the Premier League when signing for Aston Villa in 2012 and enjoyed three promising seasons before disappointing at Anfield.

Younger brother Jonathan, meanwhile, was a surprise signing for a nominal fee having scored only twice in two years at Belgium’s Zulte Waregem.

Pardew revealed earlier on Friday the thigh injury that will rule fellow new signing Loic Remy out for the coming seven to eight weeks had presented Jonathan Benteke with a first-team opportunity.

He is in contention to make his debut in Saturday’s Premier League fixture at Middlesbrough, and asked if the two could play together, the manager responded: “It is possible, style-wise.

“Jonathan is a little bit more speedy and agile, because of Christian’s size. One day that might happen. And with Loic’s injury, and with Fraizer (Campbell) injured, he is up the pecking order now for sure.

“It was an opportunity for us that he is so young and relatively cheap to take a chance on. And that is what he is really – a chance for us – and it just happens to be his brother. You get these unfortunate social media headlines thrown about which have no truth whatsoever.”

Another in contention for his debut, with midfielders Yohan Cabaye and James McArthur facing late fitness tests, is Mathieu Flamini.

Flamini arrived as a free agent and signed a contract until the end of the season a week after Bournemouth beat Pardew to securing Jack Wilshere on loan.

“We were talking to Mathieu all through the Jack thing,” said Pardew, 55, who is also expected to be without Bakary Sako at the Riverside Stadium.

“We might not have (signed Flamini) if we got Jack, just purely out of funds, but we probably would have.

“There was a tinge of disappointment (at missing out on Wilshere) because he would have done well here. Jack had a decision to make, and I had no problem with his decision. Bournemouth are a great club with a young manager who’s going places, and he had offers from Italy, so I was never confident.

“But I was hoping: it would have been a nice bit of icing on the cake for us. He’s got special talent in the final third; there’s not many players in England with that level of technical ability.

“He can still threaten that tag (of being special). Certainly, I’m sure, from speaking to him, he’s hoping his performances can nudge Sam (Allardyce, the England manager).”