Gabriel Agbonlahor, James Milner and Craig Gardner will all be absent when Aston Villa report back for pre-season training at Bodymoor Heath on Thursday.

The trio have been given extra time off after being involved with England Under-21s in the European Championship finals in Sweden until the end of June. They did not arrive back in this country until last Tuesday.

They will not link up with Martin O'Neill's squad until next week but even that extension means they will have had barely a fortnight off.

O'Neill has spoken in the past of the fear of players suffering from football burn-out.

Striker Agbonlahor and wide midfielder Milner could face 12 months non-stop football as they are strong candidates to be part of Fabio Capello's senior England squad for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa next June and July.

O'Neill is to keep a close eye on those two in particular during pre-season for signs of fatigue.

They were virtual ever presents for Villa last season before linking up with the Under-21s at the beginning of June.

Unless there are any developments in the next 24 hours, O'Neill will have no new signings on parade.

But there will be two significant absentees in retired skipper Martin Laursen and England midfielder Gareth Barry after his £12million move to Manchester City.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
#Gabriel Agbonlahor
#Manchester City
#James Milner
#Championship
#Gareth Barry
#Premier League
#Aston Villa
#Craig Gardner
Flag article