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O'NEILL HAILS GUTSY GABBY.

Byline: BY MAT KENDRICK

Martin O'neill saluted Gabby Agbonlahor for stepping off his sickbed to help Villa to victory over West brom.

Agbonlahor's contribution proved crucial as his 40th-minute strike squirmed under the body of baggies keeper scott Carson to put Villa two goals ahead.

O'neill revealed that Agbonlahor had been struggling all week with the illness which ruled him out of last weekend's Fa Cup win at Gillingham.

"Great credit to Gabby Agbonlahor for playing the whole game when he was pretty poorly," said the Villa boss. "I'm really pleased and if anybody says to me it's an own goal, then I'll say that Gabby deserves it for being on the field. He's been ill all week.

"It started really last sunday just before the Gillingham game. in the morning he was down to play, then he felt pretty poorly and has been poorly all week.

"He did a wee bit of training on Friday morning, but he was not up to it.

"A couple of weeks ago James Milner played when far from fit so their efforts have been appreciated in the dressing room.

"Gabby is a big player for us, a massive one. He's really important and he wants to play. it would be hard to replace him, no matter what strength you can get, and we need the quality players playing in our team.

"He's done great and i feel as if he's improving all the time," O'neill said.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 11, 2009
Words:243
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