O'Neill accepts Heskey injury
Martin O'Neill has no new gripes with Fabio Capello despite Emile Heskey's latest injury.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 03/04/09 4:03pm
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill insists he has no fresh gripes with England coach Fabio Capello despite striker Emile Heskey being injured for the second successive friendly international.
Capello upset O'Neill when the Italian chose to start Heskey in February's clash with Spain in Seville when the Villa man had reported for duty with an Achilles problem.
The injury suffered in Spain led to the former Wigan striker being sidelined for the FA Cup tie with Everton and the Uefa Cup first-leg meeting with CSKA Moscow - with Villa subsequently crashing out of both tournaments.
Now Heskey has been ruled out of Sunday's trip to Manchester United with the hamstring injury sustained during England's 4-0 win over Slovakia at Wembley last weekend.
But O'Neill has no war of words this time with his Three Lions counterpart because Heskey had reported fully fit for duty.
"I haven't a problem with this one because it is two separate situations," O'Neill said.
"When Emile went to the international with Spain he had come off injured in the match we had played beforehand at Blackburn.
"He then came off in the second half with England because of the same injury and was unable to play for us in the next game and I was annoyed about things.
"This is a different scenario where someone goes away properly fit and just picks up an injury that can happen anytime. That can't be helped. It is a blow but it is one of those things.
"In fairness, the rest of the players who went away on international duty are fit so, in terms of percentages, we are probably not too badly off."
Bouma & Laursen blow
However, O'Neill has revealed that left-back Wilfred Bouma has suffered a reaction in his rehabilitation to the dislocated ankle that has ruled him out for the past eight months.
Bouma played his third reserve game against Tottenham on Monday, but O'Neill added: "He is pretty sore at the moment.
"There is a bit of swelling over one of the protective screws in his ankle. It is irritating and quite painful but not a long-term worry. But he won't be able to play this Sunday."
The situation is not looking encouraging in terms of skipper Martin Laursen being fit enough to return to action this season.
The former Denmark international and Villa skipper suffered a reaction to his knee injury during Villa's recent training break in Dubai.
O'Neill had hoped the 30-year-old could return at Old Trafford but, when asked if Laursen will play again this season, he said: "I don't know, I don't know precisely, I don't know."