Tuesday 23 January 2018

Agbonlahor 'to ignore England snub'

Gabriel Agbonlahor last played for England in 2009
Gabriel Agbonlahor last played for England in 2009

In-form Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor will continue to shrug off his ongoing England snub, according to his club manager Paul Lambert.

The Birmingham native appears no closer to breaking into Roy Hodgson's team despite a consistent run of form in the Premier League dating back to the middle of last season.

While the likes of Rickie Lambert, Daniel Sturridge, Wilfried Zaha and Raheem Sterling have all been given opportunities to prove themselves recently, Agbonlahor has been in the cold since he picked up the last of his three caps in 2009.

Villa manager Lambert would surely like to see his forward's run of form rewarded by Hodgson but sees no cause for consternation should a recall fail to materialise.

"I'm not going to tell Roy Hodgson how to do his job," the Scot said. "That's his prerogative, to pick the national team. It's hard enough to pick any team.

"From my own point of view he's been playing fantastically for me, he really has.

"In the last three games he's been excellent. He's been at the top of his game against the best teams in the land in Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

"To be fair to Gabby he hasn't let it bother him; he's just got on with it. You can't influence somebody to pick somebody. But for me and this football club, he's playing really well.

"The England players are really top players anyway. England are still in the driving seat so the point was a really good result. People said 'they didn't do X, Y and Z but it was a fantastic result for them to go there and get something.

"They're still in the driving seat so there's no problem there.

"But in terms of Gabby and this football club, he's been excellent."

It was somewhat harshly suggested in the past that the 26-year-old was not overly committed to international duty after he was ruled out with injury on occasions but Lambert has not sensed a lack of interest from his forward.

"Who said that?" he said.

"I don't know. That's something in the past. When I've spoken to him he has never indicated that he wouldn't like to play for his country.

"He's never once been anything other than 'if it happens, it happens'. What can you do? All he can do is keep playing for us and if he keeps playing well, he might get a chance."

Agbonlahor may have more pressing concerns this week in the form of thousands of angry teenage girls.

The Villa striker incurred their wrath after a crunching challenge on Louis Tomlinson which left the singer vomiting at a charity game in Scotland last week.

Lambert, who also took part in the game for former Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov's cancer charity, said: "He's taken the pressure off me, that's what he's done.

"There was nothing in it, nothing at all. It was a great occasion and it wasn't about the game or who was playing, it was about Stiliyan and the charity. That was the most important thing about the occasion.

"It was brilliant, Celtic's fans were absolutely fantastic and football is a contact sport, regardless of whether it's a friendly or whatever. There was nothing in it.

"The lad from One Direction was good, really good.

"I've not heard Gabby's singing so I can't comment on how the two compare.

"But with a game like this you are taking somebody out of their comfort zone, taking a singer and putting him in a football environment so credit to him."

Press Association

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