Villa boss O'Neill lands Heskey then hints that Owen could be next

23 January 2009 10:51
Villa thriller: Heskey is delighted to be linking up again with O¿Neill Then, when asked about re-uniting Heskey with his former Liverpool and England team-mate, O'Neill said: 'We would see. Like everything else, football is evolving all the time. I don't know. That's not to say Michael Owen is not a terrific footballer. 'Gabby Agbonlahor has been incredible for us this season. He's been fantastic. What happens in the future, I don't know.' O'Neill is not slow to dismiss speculation if it is wide of the mark and, with Owen's deal running down at Newcastle, he is an attractive proposition if Villa do not have to pay a fee. The Villa boss would have to avoid breaking the club's wage structure, but Owen is likely to be enticed by the prospect of Champions League football next season and the chance to win back his England place in time for next year'sWorld Cup finals. O'Neill's obvious relief showed after joining up with Heskey for the first time in a decade since both went their separate ways from Leicester. 'He will give us an enormous lift,' he said, 'I've no doubts that Emile will improve us, Gabby and everyone around him. 'I'm delighted he's come. He would have had a number of suitors in the summer. He will thrive in this environment and help our young lads along. 'I spoke to Steve Bruce and he felt the Liverpool thing was on. But I realised then that he hadn't actually agreed anything with them as you can't sign a precontract with anyone from your League. I knew the rules on that and decided it would be worth pursuing. I couldn't be more delighted. Bold move: Heskey snubbed Liverpool to join Villa 'I think Emile has a chance to be on that plane to South Africa. If he'd gone to Liverpool, where they are not playing a£20m striker at the moment, he might not play the requisite number of games to enhance his England chances.' Heskey said: 'I have to do what I feel is best for me and my family. The chance to play in Europe, and hopefully in the Champions League again, is a huge thing for me at this time of my career, and the chance to rejoin Martin, the man who did so much for me in my early years, was too big to resist.' The one blight on a good day for O'Neill was the news that his Denmark defender Martin Laursen will be out for two months after knee surgery yesterday. Gareth Barry has been appointed captain in Laursen's absence; he lost the armband when linked with Liverpool last summer.  

Source: Daily_Mail