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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 8 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 14, 2008

Villa's O'Neill rages at ''pointless'' England friendly

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has branded England's forthcoming friendly international in Germany as "meaningless and pointless" even though striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is hotly tipped to earn a call-up from Fabio Capello.

The Villa boss is perplexed about the timing of the match in Berlin next Wednesday given the current heavy domestic and European schedule and with no World Cup qualifiers scheduled until the end of March.

O'Neill believes players would benefit more from having a rare midweek rest and is fearful of the burn-out factor ahead of tomorrow`s Barclays Premier League clash with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

"My feelings are not mixed. I think it (the internationals) are pointless, not just the England game but all of them next week," he said. "We will be interrupting cup finals soon for another stab at a friendly game.

"I know people say the England manager is going to experiment but I wouldn't accept it was a really good idea simply because Gabby (Agbonlahor) or Ashley (Young) might get a call-up.

"My view is there are enough international matches being played. They take a lot of time out to play these internationals as well and there have been two lots of two weeks already taken out of this season.

"I can understand an international manager's viewpoint and, if I was one, I'd avail myself of every opportunity to play an international game.

"But there has got to be some sort of recognition about players just not getting a break at all - and eventually it catches up with players. Our players have been at it since early July and playing competitive football in that time.

"We will play 10 more competitive games than last season by the end of December. It is not just the games, it is the travelling, everything, and it catches up with you. It is relentless and then you want to know why people pick up little niggling injuries here and there. That is my view of the international game.

"There are no qualifiers for four or five months and the Christmas period is hectic. I am flabbergasted. The timing of this one is strange."

O'Neill added: "For competitive games there is nothing like playing international football and I wouldn't prevent anyone from doing that but there is such a thing as a meaningless friendly. Some players will play 60-70 games this season. That is too many in this day and age."

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