Villa Striker Nursing Ankle Injury
Martin O'Neill says that Villa youngster Gabby Agbonlahor has been fighting for the cause as he played through the pain barrier in recent games after picking up an ankle injury on boxing day.
O'Neill said: 'I have the utmost admiration for him.'
High praise indeed. 20-year-old Gabby has been an ever present this season leading to rumours of interest from Chelsea, who basically can sod off!
'Some of the younger players in the side are developing, but they need time to develop further. They're developing brilliantly, for example Gabriel Agbonlahor. Considering he's been playing for three weeks with a really bad ankle it speaks volumes for the lad. He went over on the side at Tottenham in the first two or three minutes and hasn't had a chance to recover. He's playing through the pain barrier at the minute and he's done remarkably well. He couldn't even strike the ball in the warm-up before the Chelsea game the other night, so he's showing a fantastic willingness to play and I have the utmost admiration for him.'
'He's played every single minute of every game and played probably three times as many games as he thought he would do at the start of the season. His attitude has been brilliant and he's learning all the time. Against Chelsea, despite the fact he didn't score, he did great for us. He hasn't complained and just said: 'I'll get on with it' but under normal circumstances if we could have afforded it, we would have rested him.'
He also says: 'If we could rotate them we would but we've not been able to. I'm not talking about younger players - if we could rotate some senior players that would be great. We've had less rotation in our side than any other in the Premiership at the moment. Numerically we might be less than last season. It's difficult. The number one general point is we want to improve the squad. We're a bit thin on the ground and we've known that for a couple of months. The players have done exceptionally well and there are really fine players here - and we have a few - but they need some help.'