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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
O'Neill takes Agbonlahor U21 rap
Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor
Agbonlahor appeared in 42 games this season for his club
Martin O'Neill has taken responsibility for Gabriel Agbonlahor's failure to win a place in England's Under-21 squad for this summer's European Championships.

Aston Villa forward Agbonlahor, 20, was expected to take part after appearing in every game for his club this season.

However, England boss Stuart Pearce was unable to get in touch with the player.

"I felt Gabby would benefit from a slightly longer break, but perhaps I didn't communicate this correctly to Stuart," said Villa manager O'Neill.

"I spoke to Stuart a couple of weeks ago to say to him that Gabby has had a long season with hardly a moment's rest in the Premier League and that he may need a little while longer to recover from illness and niggling injury.

"I am genuinely sorry about any mix-up and I know Gabby was keen to be in the squad."

Agbonlahor scored 10 goals for Villa this season, and also found the net on his debut in March 2006.

And Pearce was infuriated to lose a player of such promise ahead of the summer tournament in the Netherlands when his side take on Italy, Serbia and Czech Republic in the group stages.

"I think he's been away on holiday and won't return the calls," said the former Manchester City manager.

"I felt a bit disappointed but one person's loss in another one's gain.

"The more important thing from my point of view is the players who are desperate to be here. And last week, at the training camp, certainly showed their determination to be part of the squad."

SEE ALSO
Bentley picked for England U21s
30 May 07 |  Internationals


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