O'Neill wants recharged Gabby
By Alex Livie. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is hopeful a nine-day break will have allowed rising star Gabriel Agbonlahor to recharge his batteries.
Agbonlahor has been the surprise package at Villa Park this term, having emerged from the wilderness to become a fixture in O'Neill's side.
The 20-year-old has featured in all 16 of Villa's Premiership game this term and O'Neill has admitted it was not possible for him to pull the youngster from the line of fire.
However, the fixture programme afforded Villa a nine-day break and O'Neill is hopeful Agbonlahor will come back refreshed at Sheffield United on Monday - live on Sky Sports 1.
"I think, for instance, young Gabby has played every single minute of every single game and that would have been a genuine surprise to him if you had said that at the start of the season," said O'Neill.
"The very fact we've been unable to rest him might show our lack of strength in depth, but that's up to us to address that.
"This is a big period coming up between now and the New Year and I told him to go away and rest. Rest is as important as the playing.
"I said 'just go and stop thinking about football for a day or two - go and relax'.
"I wouldn't know what every single player is doing every single minute. The idea is to rest and get themselves mentally tuned in as well as physically."
O'Neill is also hopeful midfielder Steven Davis will be able to recapture his fine form of last term.
"Steven has come back refreshed after being rested from the team for a couple of games, and against Portsmouth in the last match was as strong as he has been for us this season," stated O'Neill. "He did very well."