Monday media watch [06.05.13]: Agbonlahor on England hopes
Daily Star: Gabby Agbonlahor had a dig at England boss Roy Hodgson as he confirmed that he would love to play for his country again. He seems to have been around for ages, but Aston Villa's Premier League record goalscorer is only 26 and looks in his prime. Agbonlahor admitted the last time he was in such goalscoring form - his double against Norwich made it six in seven matches - he was in the youth team. But he pointed out Hodgson seemed happy to pick certain players, mentioning Arsenal's Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain, even if they were not in their club's starting XI.
Birmingham Mail: Gabriel Agbonlahor has responded to the latest intermittent enquiries about his England future by indicating he wants to play for his country again, but will put Villa first. As has regularly happened during Agbonlahor's bursts of scoring form, an international recall for the Brummie striker is being mooted following six goals in his past seven appearances. Agbonlahor would be open to representing his country again for the first time since he won his third cap against Belarus in October 2009, but he is not sure he fits into Roy Hodgson's current Three Lions selection policy.
Daily Mirror: Gabby Agbonlahor stepped out of Christian Benteke's shadow to haul Aston Villa to the brink of safety and rekindle his England hopes. But the red-hot Villa striker fears national team boss Roy Hodgson is picking players on reputations not form. Agbonlahor's clinical finishing and pace was the telling factor at Carrow Road in a tight relegation clash. Benteke dominated the pre-match build-up after a hat-trick in the 6-1 rout of Sunderland made it 22 goals this term. But Agbonlahor's double means he has six goals in his past seven league matches. His heroics are reminiscent of his displays under Martin O'Neill when he earned three England caps for Fabio Capello, the last of which was in October 2009. He now surely deserves another chance in end-of- season friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil. But the ace is worried Hodgson is not picking players on merit, such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal.
Sky Sports: Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor does not have high hopes of an England recall as he feels it is a closed shop. Agbonlahor has been in fine form for Villa having scored eight goals in his last 12 Premier League games for the club, including a brace in Saturday's crucial 2-1 win at Norwich. But the 26-year-old forward is not expecting Roy Hodgson to get in touch because he feels the England boss has his settled squad and is reluctant to change it.
ESPN: Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is confident the club's youth policy has unearthed players that have "stood up to the plate" in the club's darkest hours. Villa are within touching distance of surviving for another season in the Premier League with the recent 2-1 win over Norwich moving the club five points above the relegation zone with only two games remaining. The scenario the club now faces is in stark contrast to the plight the club and its young guns found themselves earlier in the season when Manchester City (5-0), Chelsea (8-0), Tottenham (4-0) and Wigan (3-0) tore the club apart and sent them tumbling down the ladder. But Agbonlahor and his young team-mates are making a late surge just at the right time thanks to a two-game winning streak. And the 26-year-old, the club's all-time leading goal scorer, believes the club's investment in youth has finally been justified.
Independent: There is not much right now that Paul Lambert, the Villa manager, would care to change. This win, following last Monday's 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland, left his fans gleefully chorusing: "We are staying up". And though Lambert refused to take that for granted, he is clearly looking forward to another Premier League season. "Everybody said we were dead and buried, with all our young players, but I think we're playing ever so well at this moment in time. We've got a lot of good footballers in the side. If we keep that level, keep building, then hopefully we'll have a big future," Lambert said. "We've been playing really well without getting the breaks. I couldn't be disappointed with the performances; now what we're getting is performances plus results." In truth, the result on Saturday was better than the performance - bar that of Agbonlahor, whose second-half display thoroughly deserved the assertion by his manager that he is "on fire".
Daily Telegraph: Gabriel Agbonlahor says Aston Villa have proved critics wrong who accused them of being a one-man team after he scored the goals that earned a vital win. Aston Villa could virtually secure safety if they win at home against Rafa Benitez's Chelsea on Saturday, which would be particularly sweet after being thrashed 8-0 at Stamford Bridge in December. This victory took them above Norwich City, whose manager Chris Hughton admitted he would be having "sleepless nights" because of their situation. Agbonlahor said Villa's players have learned their lesson from the Chelsea thrashing and launched an impassioned defence of his younger team-mates.
Birmingham Mail: The injury which ended Matt Lowton's proud Premier League ever-present record is not thought to be serious, according to Villa boss Paul Lambert. Lowton limped out of the claret and blues' thrilling 2-1 victory over survival rivals Norwich at Carrow Road after 27 minutes with a thigh problem. It ended a run of 36 consecutive Premier League starts and 3,177 minutes of action during the right-back's impressive debut season in the top flight. But Lowton is hopeful of shaking off the injury, originally sustained in the thrashing of Sunderland, in time for Saturday's home match against Chelsea. Up until Saturday, Lowton had played every minute of Villa's Premier League and Capital One Cup campaign with his only rest coming in the FA Cup third-round win over Ipswich.
Sky Sports: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says Gabby Agbonlahor has been a key man in battle for relegation. Agbonlahor scored twice - the second in the last minute - as Villa beat relegation rivals Norwich 2-1 at Carrow Road. That lifted Villa up to 40 points and 13th in the table, five clear of Wigan who currently occupy the dreaded eighteenth spot - though the Latics do have a game in hand. Christian Benteke has grabbed most of the headlines in his debut season in the Premier League, but Agbonlahor has been pivotal to their victories in the last few weeks. Agbonlahor broke Dwight Yorke's all-time Villa goalscoring record in the 6-1 victory over Sunderland last week, before adding his brace at Carrow Road.
The Sun: Paul Lambert insists wing-heeled forward Gabriel Agbonlahor has been vital to Villa's push to the brink of safety. Agbonlahor, 26, netted a brace in the 2-1 win over Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday — his last-minute winner moving the Lions on to 40 points with two games to spare.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.