Agbonlahor determined to impress Capello

April 6, 2008

Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor has vowed to force his way back into Fabio Capello's England plans after ending his four-month scoring drought.

Agbonlahor was selected for Capello's first squad against Switzerland before having to withdraw through injury but failed to make the final 23 for the international in France last month.

By his own admission Agbonlahor has not been at his very best during the last couple of months.

But he found the net for the first time in 2008 and in 13 games with the second goal in yesterday's 4-0 triumph over Bolton, which keeps alive hopes of qualifying for Europe.

Agbonlahor said: 'It was difficult to take (being left out of the England squad) after being in the initial 30-man party but it shows I'm in Mr Capello's mind so I've got to keep trying to perform and hopefully I'll get back in there.

'It shows you are on the brink, which is a good thing. It's a massive buzz to get into the top 30 players in the country and it's better to be called up and then left out than to be nowhere near the manager's plans in the first place.

'I'm hoping it is third time lucky for me in the next game and that I'll stay in the manager's mind. You can't sulk about it. There were a few players who didn't get into the final squad.

'Look at Jermain Defoe, who has been banging in the goals and still can't get in.

'You can't be too upset about being left out. You've just got to think 'I've got where I am, now I've just got to keep improving and try and get right to the top'.

'It doesn't knock your confidence because I know that I'm still young and I've got all my career ahead of me to play for my country.'

Agbonlahor is determined to recapture the form that first attracted Capello's attention as Villa ended a run of five games without a win at the expense of Gary Megson's side.

And he insisted he felt no extra pressure over his lack of goals before the win against the Trotters.

He said: 'I think I started off quite well and for two thirds of the season I've been really good but since then my form has dipped. I don't know why. It would be the easy way out to say 'I'm tired' but I don't feel that tired.

'People say players are watching videos of me to find ways of stopping me but, if they are doing that, it gives me extra reasons to develop my game.

'As for the goals situation, I've not been worried. They were coming quite regularly earlier in the season and I've felt it was just a matter of time before they came again for me.

'I haven't felt any extra pressure but it's nice to find the net again and hopefully we can finish the season strongly.'

Villa manager Martin O'Neill said: 'No matter what I say to Gabby about not worrying, he is a centre-forward and he likes to score a few goals.

'When he scored the goal, all the confidence returned to him and he looked as if he could go past anyone. It's a funny old thing is confidence.'

Megson is aware of the need to sort matters out short term and long term at the Reebok Stadium.

He said: 'We've got to scrap and fight for every blade of grass that is on the pitch and we must compete and not get ourselves into a position where we can let the heads go down.

'We've got to try and start a game properly, get after it in the proper manner, hopefully score the first goal and then take it forward from that point.

'The problems to sort out are short term and long term. You are not down at the bottom of the table with five points from 10 games if you have not got problems.

'You are not down in the bottom three after 33 games and four points adrift if you haven't got problems. You can't turn around and say everything in the garden is rosy.

'There are things that will take a little bit of time to sort out and there are things that are more important at the moment that need sorting out, i.e. getting a win.'