Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill believes that his trio of youngsters, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and Curtis Davies should take inspiration from Arsenal starlet Theo Walcott. After being called up by England manager Fabio Capello for the International friendly with Germany on Wednesday.
O’Neill has said that his young Villans can learn from the way 19-year-old Walcott has gone from being a fringe player for the Gunners and England to a regular starter for both club and country.
Former Celtic manager O’Neill also hailed the performance of Walcott for his hat-trick against Croatia in England’s 4-1 win in Zagreb in their World Cup qualifier and insists any up and coming player should take inspiration from the former Southampton player.
O'Neill said: “At international level, the team is going really well. You have some outstanding players and an outstanding manager who is guiding the team through to the World Cup.
“They have had a fantastic start to their group and are going along nicely so breaking into that side is difficult - and why shouldn't it be if that is the level you want to achieve?
“But I think any up and coming player should take inspiration from Walcott.
“It was such an important game against Croatia and, for him to come up trumps in the manner he did do, speaks volumes for the kid. He did remarkably well.
“He has put aside that whole trauma of the 2006 World Cup before when he was taken to Germany as a youngster, was hyped up and then didn't play.
“He has done very well, come back from that, and other players can draw inspiration from that."
With Capello expected to give some of the fringe players in the England squad an opportunity to impress against the Germans, O’Neill has no doubt’s that Young and Agbonlahor can play at International level, but has warned his young stars that every opportunity is priceless if they want to be on the plane to South Africa for the World Cup Finals in 2010.
He added: “I have have no reservations about Gabby and Ashley going into the squad now. They are both capable of playing well for their country.
“I've often said to the players the time you really want to be right is when the plane takes off from Heathrow or Gatwick to the World Cup finals in South Africa. You want to be on it.
“So any opportunity they get, they should try and utilise it. Every moment on the field of play is priceless.
“In the scheme of things they are going along nicely but it is still big to get your place in that side, and keep it, which is great credit to Gareth Barry.
“What I wouldn't want is for complete and final judgements made on a player in one particular game or in one half. That is where the pressure might build up, that you feel you might have to really impress.”