Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert today called for Gabby Agbonlahor to be handed an England recall after labelling him “unplayable” against Arsenal.
The striker tore the Gunners apart in Villa’s shock 3-1 win at the Emirates on Saturday to press his international claims in a World Cup year.
He was twice brought down for penalties with Christian Benteke scoring after Wojciech Szczesny had saved his first before netting the second after the break.
Agbonlahor, who has three caps, last played for England against Belarus in 2009 but Lambert believes – ahead of next year’s World Cup in Brazil – he deserves a shot.
He said: “If he plays like that and keeps that form and that way of playing then I don’t see why not. That was just an absolutely fabulous performance it really was. His speed is there for everyone to see. Once he gets a run at you, nobody to catch him.
“I just remember Gabby when Martin O’Neill was at the football club was outstanding. He made his mark in that era. I don’t know what’s happened in the last couple of seasons. It’s just a matter of trying to pick him up and get him going. From the last four or five months of last season to today he’s been outstanding, absolutely fantastic.”
It was Villa’s first opening win for three years, capped by Antonio Luna’s late strike, and ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Chelsea Lambert admitted it was his best first day win.
He added: “I had a better one with Colchester (beating Norwich 7-1) but not at the highest level, no. It was a fabulous result. The performance was outstanding and everything about it was fantastic.”
But Nathan Baker limped off with an ankle injury and is a doubt for Wednesday’s trip to Stamford Bridge.
“He’s just hurt his ankle, well he’s rocked it. I think it was Theo Walcott caught him, so he’ll be a doubt,” he said. “It happens but (Jores) Okore’s back and nearly match fit and he’ll be a big player for us. Ciaran (Clark) came in and I thought he was excellent beside Ron (Vlaar).
“Losing Nathan was a blow but Ciaran came in and did great for us. I don’t know whether Nathan has got a chance for the Liverpool game on Saturday. It’s really early, so we’ll have to see.”