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Villa boss O'Neill: No problems with English youth development

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has rubbished claims England's young talent is falling short.

He said: "The number of foreign players in the Premier League might be reducing the number of places available for English players to play, but it is making sure that the ones who do come through are of a much better standard. That is absolutely right.

"The introduction of top-quality foreign players can only be good for the game. You can't tell me that players like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Eric Cantona have not enriched our game, because they have.

"Of course there might be a problem if you get a group of less gifted foreign players, but my genuine belief is that if any young English player is good enough then he will come through.

"If you look at people like Frank Lampard and John Terry, they are shining examples of that.

"Their response to big-name players arriving at Chelsea was not to think it was unfair they didn't get a chance, it was to work harder and force their way into the team by their performances.

"Of course it is harder at big clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United, but I genuinely believe that if players are good enough they will get a chance."

O'Neill is certainly practicing what he preaches at Villa Park, having drafted-in Ashley Young, Nigel Reo-Coker, Zat Knight, Curtis Davies and Marlon Harewood.

He is also giving the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor, Luke Moore, Craig Gardner and others from the Academy a chance to shine in the top-flight.

He also told Villa's website: "I have faith in those players - real faith. And I don't mind going for the likes of somebody who is 21, 22 or 23 with lots to prove and to learn and has got a bit of potential.

"A lot of people questioned what I spent on Ashley Young and that's fair enough, but I'd seen enough of him to believe it would never be a major risk.

"Ashley's light but he can get at players, he's capable, he's got trickery, he's got confidence. He definitely can play a bit - and for one so lean, when he draws back and hits the ball it stays hit.

"Nigel does so much for the side from midfield, we think Curtis is full of potential and so are Knight and Harewood.

"And don't forget we've also given chances to some people who were already at the club, like Luke Moore and Gaby Agbonlahor.

"There are others like Craig Gardner, who has had a taste of Under-21 football even though he's played out of position. I'm absolutely confident about the potential they all have."

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Tribal Football Staff

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