Villa party pleases O'Neill

Warnock, Heskey and Milner leave club boss beaming

Warnock: Surprise selection

Martin O'Neill is delighted to have seen three members of his Aston Villa squad make the grade with England.

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James Milner, Emile Heskey and Stephen Warnock will all be heading off on World Cup duty this summer having been handed a seat on the plane to South Africa.

The trio were named in Fabio Capello's 23-man squad on Tuesday and their inclusion has re-written the history books at Villa Park.

Villa have never had more than one player in an England World Cup squad before, but can now take heart from the fact they boast some of the countries top talent.

Heskey and Milner were widely tipped to make the cut, and their inclusion came as no surprise, but the selection of Warnock to provide cover at left-back represents a welcome bonus for all concerned.

"It really is very pleasing that those three are in the final 23 of the England team going to try and win the World Cup," O'Neill said in the Birmingham Mail.

"Playing for your country is an accolade bestowed on not that many people, so it is a fantastic honour and I am sure all three players will be proud of themselves and their families will be very proud of them.


"We at Aston Villa are particularly proud of them because they have represented the football club here in the past with obvious excellent distinction.

"It was particularly pleasing for Stephen because he may have thought his chances had been lessened somewhat by not participating in either of the two warm-up games."

O'Neill is also pleased to have played a part in helping Warnock and Milner fulfill their international ambitions, with the pair having blossomed since moving to the Midlands.

"In particular, Stephen and James came to the football club obviously with decent aspirations of trying to improve as footballers and, as a consequence of that, they'd be trying to improve with better players around them," added O'Neill.

"So it's an ambition realised for both of those players.

"In the case of Emile, he had quite a number of England caps while at other football clubs and so he has been able to draw on all that experience for England to keep himself very much in the limelight.

"As far as we are concerned at Aston Villa, we bask in a bit of reflected glory that all three will be representing their country and hopefully playing a big part in proceedings."