Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill defends Heskey decision

Martin O'Neill insists he put no pressure on Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey to end his England career.

But the Villa boss believes Heskey, 32, will reap the benefits of having the international breaks to rest up following his decision to quit England after a disappointing World Cup campaign in South Africa.

"No-one at the football club forced Emile to retire from international football," said O'Neill.

"That was a decision he made all on his own. He feels now that international football is something he can do without.

"There are weeks when you've got the international breaks that you can rest. In that sense he will see that there is a benefit.

"But international football shouldn't really have any effect on your club form - apart from not getting a break."

Heskey will face a battle for his place at Villa despite O'Neill not recruiting any new strikers so far this summer.

England Under-19 player Nathan Delfouneso is expected to make a bigger challenge for a spot this season.

O'Neill said: "I don't think there will be too many players at the club who can complain about not getting chances to play.

"When you get them, you've got to grasp them. We've got Emile, John Carew, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nathan Delfouneso and young Andreas Weimann who I think has got a chance."


From Belfast Telegraph