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O'Neill pleads for Capello sympathy

Martin O'Neill has urged England coach Fabio Capello to be mindful of the heavy schedule endured by Aston Villa's players when he selects his side for next week's friendly international in Spain.

Villa could be represented by Emile Heskey, Gareth Barry, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and Curtis Davies when Capello names his squad for the game in Seville on February 11.

O'Neill understands that the Italian will want to explore different options before the World Cup qualifiers resume on April 1 against the Ukraine.

But he is hoping Capello will take into account the number of matches some of his players have clocked up during the current campaign.

O'Neill, whose side face Doncaster in an FA Cup fourth-round replay tonight, said: "It is certainly a point for discussion and I have thought about it. I think that the England manager would have a look at the number of games that our boys have played.

"I accept the fact that he will maybe be using next week as an opportunity for final thoughts before the qualifiers.

"I am sure he knows at least nine of his starting XI for the crucial games coming up. There will be one or two trying to make their way in.

"But I would hope that he would be mindful that the players have played a lot of games. I have not been in a position to ask before but if there were a number of players picked from our team, then I'm sure we might have to look at it.

"I am hoping he would look at it from a club viewpoint on a friendly."

O'Neill is confident Capello would take on board any observations he had to make.

He said: "I don't think it's to do with where you are in the table. I think it's to do with the relationship and I think it's to do with a bit of trust.

"Not that I have asked the England manager for anything before. But I'm quite sure that he will be willing to listen, to hear our particular viewpoint - regardless of whether we're in the top four or not.

"The reason being is that we have at this football club important assets to the England set-up, whether they're in the actual team or in the squad.

"If you build a decent relationship with club and country, I don't think there should be a major problem, certainly for friendly games. I think that he would be pretty amenable."

Young will return after a three-game ban to face Doncaster following his sending-off against Sunderland and striker John Carew will start for the first time in three months after a back problem.


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