Aston Villa Manager O'Neill Fears Agbonlahor & Milner Will Be Burned Out

His two young stars have had a heavy workload and need a break, reckoms the Villa boss...

The prospect of two of his young players - Gabriel Agbonlahor and James Milner - being involved with England's Under-21s at this summer's European Championships has Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill deeply concerned that the pair could suffer from burn-out early next season.

O'Neill would not discourage them from travelling with Young England to the tournament in Sweden, says The Guardian, but he does intend to speak to "the powers at be" at the FA to suggest that the two Villans have an extended break before joining up with the rest of the squad.

Stuart Pearce, England U-21 manager, is likely to be the person to whom O'Neill addresses his concerns. And the Ulsterman will probably urge Pearce to give Agbonlahor and Milner a rest, in the interests of both England and Villa.

"I will speak to the people involved," the Villa manager told The Guardian. "Regardless of what I say and advise, the final decision will be with the national team. However, if you want somebody fresh and ready for competition then, in terms of preparation, I think you've got to listen to someone who has been involved with them every single day of the last couple of years, and also the players themselves.

"I wouldn't let them miss the tournament," he continued. "It is important. But at the end of the season they could take two weeks off, get themselves away somewhere and then come back and be more refreshed for it. I don't know the composition of the Under-21 squad but there wouldn't be any players who have played more games than those two."

Agbonlahor has made 45 appearances for Villa this season, while Milner has made 43 appearances for Newcastle United and Villa. Both have also featured at international level this season and O'Neill fears they could suffer from exhaustion further down the track.

"The burn-out will probably start affecting them in October or November time next season if they don't get a break," he said.

"You are talking about the players getting niggly injuries and not having proper time to recover. I accept that gone are the days when you can sit on the beach for a month but you need some time and they haven't had it. The other thing is that Gabby played centre-forward on his own for three months so he has had a long season."

O'Neill added that Villa's small squad has not helped. "What we have found, if you are hoping to can compete at the top end of the table, it is an impossibility to have 19, 20, 21 players at the football club. Even if they are of decent ability, you will have to change players around because it is a remarkably long season and it is getting longer and longer."

Graham Lister,