O'Neill backs Villa duo
Martin O'Neill thinks Ashley Young and Stewart Downing are capable of filling the gap left by David Beckham.
By James Riach
Last Updated: 15/03/10 12:38pm
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill thinks Ashley Young and Stewart Downing are capable of filling the gap left by David Beckham.
Beckham will be absent for England in this summer's World Cup after rupturing an Achilles tendon while playing for AC Milan on Sunday, with the 34-year-old facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Villa midfielder James Milner is expected to make the plane for South Africa and O'Neill is backing his team-mates Downing and Young to stake a late claim.
"I don't know what the England manager had in mind, whether he was going to take David Beckham or not to the World Cup," he said.
"The news coming out of the England camp suggests that he was and therefore it is a blow. He has been a very good player for quite some considerable time.
"On the other hand, as you say, if there is an opportunity there, we have one or two players who actually play and can excel in that position.
"That is down to the England manager.
"I said last week that, if the likes of Ashley and Gabby (Agbonlahor) and players of that ilk, still have designs left on heading to Africa, every single game they play in will be a chance for them to shine.
"I've heard that James Milner is in a great position to go, one of the reasons being he can play well in a number of positions.
"When you've got a couple of all-purpose players in your squad, that would suit any manager.
"As for the position wide right, there must be three or four candidates that have got a strong chance. My own view is that Ashley can play there very well indeed.
"Stewart Downing can play there very well indeed. I don't know what the thoughts are (of Capello) but there is still time."
With injuries to a number of England hopefuls, manager Fabio Capello has some thinking to do before he decides on his 23-man squad for the competition.
A provisional squad will be named on 16th May before the Italian trims it down on 1st June for the final selection.