O'Neill backs Agbonlahor for England

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Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill believes it will be difficult to leave Gabriel Agbonlahor out of England's World Cup squad if he maintains his current form.

Agbonlahor was not chosen by Fabio Capello for England's recent matches with Slovenia and Croatia at Wembley. But he struck for the third successive match to help Villa gain a comfortable 2-0 home win over Portsmouth - their fourth in a row - after James Milner had opened the scoring.

"He conjured something from nothing," said O'Neill. "He is playing brilliantly for us and that was a fantastic goal. I know South Africa is a long way off but if he can continue that sort of form he will be hard to ignore."

Villa shook off the training round bust-up between O'Neill and the axed midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker to sustain their challenge for a European spot.

"The kerfuffle had nothing to do with it," said O'Neill. "We got a bit of momentum going before the game and it was important to keep that going. We looked a bit tired which is inexplicable but we won the game and know we can play much better."

Portsmouth boss Paul Hart bemoaned his side's poor defending as they slumped to a sixth successive league defeat.

"I am not pointing the finger at anyone and we have a difficult job to do," he said.

"I thought we played well in the first half and they did not give us many problems.

"But you are distraught if you give away two goals that you would be distraught about if you were an 11-year-old. That gave us a mountain to climb but overall we played extremely well.

"They were two errors that in terms of Premier League football I can't quite understand. I have got great belief in my players and I do think we will turn things around."

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Gabriel Agbonlahor
Nigel Reo-Coker
James Milner
Premier League
Aston Villa

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