O'Neill tells Heskey to be patient

Martin O'Neill has urged Emile Heskey to be patient reminding him that the World Cup is still months away. The Aston Villa manager's statement follows the England international's claim that he will leave the Birmingham club if he fails to win his first-team place back.

Heskey has started just one league match this season and has found himself frozen out by the form of Gabriel Agbonlahor and John Carew up front. The former Liverpool striker has scored a paltry two goals in 19 appearances since joining Villa from Wigan in January.

Fabio Capello has made it clear that he will only select players who start regularly for their clubs in the final 23-man squad for next summer's World Cup in South Africa so Heskey knows that he place could be under threat.

However, O'Neill appears to have been none too impressed by the striker's outburst: 'Players need to remember themselves here. The World Cup is not next week, not before Christmas and not even before Easter. It's a long, long way away.'

'The side picked if the World Cup was just round the corner might be a lot different to the one picked for next summer. There could be five changes or more with things like injuries or loss of form. There are players at this football club with proper ambitions to be in the England reckoning next summer – and so they should.'

The Villa manager continued: 'That's people like Ashley Young, James Milner, Stewart Downing, Gabby Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey, but I wouldn't get overly concerned about all that just yet if I were them.'

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