O'Neill seeks Capello showdown: Emile was not fit and should not have played

14 February 2009 12:32
  Aston Villa

manager Martin O'Neill will demand a meeting with Fabio Capello over the decision to play Emile Heskey in England's midweek defeat by Spain.

The striker was suffering with an achilles problem and O'Neill admitted he was surprised by Capello's selection, particularly as Heskey's fully fit team-mates James Milner and Ashley Young did not play.

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O'Neill said: 'I have spoken to the England doctor and voiced some concern and I will speak to the management team. I was surprised he played, considering he wouldn't have been fully fit.

'Of course there is always the possibility of players getting injured playing for their country. But if someone has been injured beforehand and ahead of a friendly game, I'm not so sure that is a risk worth taking.'

Heskey suffered the injury in last Saturday's 2-0 victory at Blackburn and is struggling to play in Villa's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Everton tomorrow.

O'Neill said: 'He had come off against Blackburn. The ruling is that you go and be assessed by the international medical team. Luke Young had a sore toe and I think they saw that was particularly obvious and he came back. But I know Emile and he would have played in a bit of discomfort.

'What I would say about Emile is that he came off with an achilles problem last week. He didn't come off because he was tired. You would have thought that rest would have been the order of the day, but England deemed him fit to play in the game.

'If you are an international manager you want every opportunity to get to see someone. But if someone is not fully fit to play in the game then you are not going to get the best out of him.

'If you're fully fit then I don't have a problem. But if you have been suffering from something a couple of days before, then I think there should be a bit of care taken.'

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'O'Neill is concerned that Heskey will miss an important week for Villa, with a midweek UEFA Cup tie against CSKA Moscow following the Everton match, when Villa will be without the suspended Gareth Barry.

O'Neill said: 'Emile didn't train yesterday. He's particularly sore at the minute. If he could play at Everton it would be great. But if the game was today he couldn't.

'The England match was a friendly and I could understand it if it was a qualifying game - they are obviously very important - but this was a friendly and you can use six substitutes.

'The ironic thing was that James Milner and Ashley Young were out there with no injury problems and did not play. Emile arrived with an injury and did play.'


Source: Daily_Mail