O'Neill: Villa boast England's future

Aston Villa boast England's future stars, insists manager Martin O'Neill.

He has challenged new boy Nigel Reo-Coker and skipper Gareth Barry to push Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard out of the central roles - while Ashley Young and Gaby Agbonlahor fill the flanks.

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O'Neill said: "England have got a formidable midfield, especially now Owen Hargreaves is back in the fold, but I think Nigel can break into that. Absolutely.

"I feel the same about Gareth Barry. That should be a big ambition for both of them. It's probably the hardest part of the squad to break into but I believe they can both do it.

"It sounds like I'm talking about the future, but Nigel is no longer eligible for the Under-21s.

"The only way he can achieve it is by playing well for Villa and putting us into a decent bracket where the England manager cannot afford to ignore form. It might be OK for him to play well in a side who are mediocre, but if he and Barry are driving us on and we're doing well, it's a different proposition.

"It's been important to me to keep a core of Britishness about the team, and it's very exciting to see the potential of some of the other young lads we have, like Young and Agbonlahor."

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