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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

O'Neill tells players to use Walcott as inspiration

Martin O'Neill believes fringe players looking to impress England coach Fabio Capello should take inspiration from the achievements of Theo Walcott.

O'Neill has a trio of his Aston Villa players - Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and Curtis Davies - hoping to stake their claim in Wednesday's friendly international with Germany in Berlin.

The former Celtic boss feels they should take on board the way Walcott went from being a bit-part player with England to a first-team regular after his stunning hat-trick against Croatia in a World Cup qualifier in Zagreb in September.

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.''

O'Neill is confident forward duo Agbonlahor and Young can do themselves justice if they are given the nod by Capello against the Germans.

He said: "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.''

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