Aston Villa manager Martin O´Neill has apologised after taking the blame for Gabriel Agbonlahor´s absence from the England Under-21 squad for the forthcoming European Championships.

Agbonlahor was due to be part of Stuart Pearce´s party for the tournament but was left out in acrimonious circumstances after Pearce and the Football Association were unable to get in touch with the highly-rated forward, who scored 10 goals for Villa in his breakthrough season.

But Agbonlahor´s club boss O´Neill has accepted responsibility for a breakdown in communications, telling the Daily Express: "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."

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