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Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 13:30 UK

O'Neill unmoved on Heskey future

Emile Heskey and Gareth Barry
Former Villa team-mate Gareth Barry said he 'understood' Heskey's feelings

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill says Emile Heskey should not yet worry about his England spot at the 2010 World Cup, after claims he could leave Villa Park.

The striker admitted his lack of starts for Villa was a concern after Saturday's World Cup defeat in Ukraine.

O'Neill has preferred to play Gabriel Agbonlahor as a lone striker but said the World Cup was "a long way away".

"There are players at this club with England ambitions. I wouldn't be overly concerned about all that yet," he said.

Heskey, 31, has started only one Premier League match this season but has begun six out of England's nine World Cup qualifiers in the current campaign.

The former Liverpool striker said after the 1-0 defeat in Ukraine that he was happy playing for England and "obviously, not playing at club level is difficult".

"It's something I will have to look at when I get back and try to address it," he added.

England and Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry said that he "understood the feelings" of his former Villa Park team-mate, while the Villa manager appeared to be less perturbed.


Regarding Heskey's comments, O'Neill added: "I've been away from my desk for a couple of days, so I will genuinely have to sit down and have a think about it before I make any comment on that.

"There are players at this football club with proper ambitions to be in the England reckoning next summer - and so they should - like Ashley Young, James Milner, Stewart Downing, Gabby Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey.

"But players need to remember themselves here. The World Cup is not next week, not before Christmas and not even before Easter. It's a long, long way away.

"The side picked, if the World Cup was just round the corner, might be a lot different to the one picked for next summer. There could be five changes or more with things like injuries or loss of form."

Heskey joined Villa from Wigan for £3.5m in January, linking up again with O'Neill after a previous spell together at Leicester City.

He has also won 57 England caps since making his debut against Hungary in 1999.

see also
Barry understands Heskey stance
13 Oct 09 |  Internationals
England 3-0 Belarus
14 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Ukraine 1-0 England
10 Oct 09 |  Internationals
O'Neill angry over Heskey start
13 Feb 09 |  Aston Villa
Villa sign England striker Heskey
23 Jan 09 |  Aston Villa

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