Heskey backed for South Africa 

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Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey has been backed to secure a place in Fabio Capello's England squad for the World Cup finals - even though he has struggled to get into the side at Villa Park.

The former Liverpool striker has lost his starting role to Norway forward John Carew who has scored 17 goals for Villa this season. But Villa manager Martin O'Neill does not think his lack of action for Villa should stand against him when Capello finalises his plans for South Africa..

O'Neill said: "My own view is that he played in the qualifying rounds and I should imagine that will stand him in very good stead."

He added: "I think overall the England manager will have a fair idea of his squad.

"Part of his thinking will be 'who has done so well for me in previous games?' and Emile Heskey has to come into that category.

"In truth he has been a wee bit unlucky with Villa this season. I thought he was splendid in the Carling Cup final but he came back and picked up a knock or two."

O'Neill has a full squad to choose from for the clash with Blackburn and he is relishing the fact Villa still have something to play for as the jockeying for European places goes down to the wire.

He is set to retain the side that started against Manchester City last weekend as Villa go in search of a fourth win of the season against Blackburn. They have beaten them in the FA Cup and in both legs of the Carling Cup semi-final - famously winning the second leg at Villa Park 6-4.

O'Neill added: "Normally there is not very much to play for at this time of the season but we have a terrific incentive to do well.

"If we win we will definitely finish sixth and the difference between that and finishing seventh is the extra qualifying games in the Europa League. If you finish seventh it means that we will be playing at the end of July. But if we finish sixth there is only one set of qualifying games in August after the season has started."

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Europa League
Manchester City
Blackburn Rovers
John Carew
League Cup
Emile Heskey
Premier League
Aston Villa
FA Cup

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