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By ESPN Staff

O'Neill gives backing to Southgate

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has backed the Premier League's decision to allow Gareth Southgate to remain as Middlesbrough boss.

But he believes it is a 'big ask' for any budding manager to start out on their career in the Premiership.

Southgate, whose side visit Villa on Saturday, was thrust into the role after five years as a player at the Riverside following Steve McClaren's departure to become England coach.

O'Neill took the opposite route to Southgate, starting at non-league Grantham, Shepshed and Wycombe before making the big breakthrough at Football League level with Leicester before moving to Celtic.

He said: 'I just think in general terms it is a really big ask to come into the Premiership for young managers - no matter if their life is steeped in Premiership football.

'I have got regard for those who go down that route. But I think there is a case sometimes for learning your trade a bit further down, getting to know the rudiments of management.

'If it is thrust upon you, and you feel you are up to doing it, then who am I to argue with it?

'I wish Gareth well. It is a very difficult task. It's good that he's been given the go-ahead to continue on there. I am an advocate of that. It's not a problem.

'He will be picking up things every single day. He definitely has the attributes and the ability to be a really good manager. But like everything else, time will tell.'

O'Neill has no regrets about taking the long route to the top after hanging up his boots in the mid-1980s.

He said: 'I went to Grantham because of the job opportunity. It was up to me and I thought that I had to start somewhere.

'If I was good enough, then I could improve, if not then I wouldn't have hurt too many people, or annoyed too many.

'Sometimes it is not really up to you to be able to pick and choose.'