Date: 20th November 2008 at 6:12pm
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Martin O’Neill was chuffed to bits when he saw Gabby walk onto the pitch to make his Senior England Debut and he believes the achievement is the result of two years hard work.

We all know O’Neill isn’t a fan of international friendlies, and as a manager he isn’t alone, the difference is Villa players when it comes to England, are just injured less.

Speaking on the official site O’Neill made the distinction between the perception of friendlies from the standpoint of the manager and the player, and picked up on the point above…he won’t stop players from representing their Countries if they want to.

‘I sometimes have a bit of a joke about international matches. The point I try to make, from a club viewpoint, is I think these international matches coming up before Christmas are a bit of an intrusion.

‘However, I am looking at it from my viewpoint as a club manager. If you were to look at it from a player’s viewpoint like Gareth or Gabby, they want to play.

‘We don’t stop them from playing in these matches. Other managers do stop their players. I complain but don’t stop them while other managers don’t complain but do stop them.

‘It was a great feeling for Gabby to get on the field for England.

‘It is the culmination of two years of really, really hard work. And I think that is the lovely thing.

‘Do I take enormous pride from Gabby lining up for his senior international debut? Absolutely! That is great. It truly is great.

‘I thought Gabby did very well. I was hoping he would have lashed in a hat-trick by half-time and then he could have come off before the break to generous applause.

‘Joking aside, I couldn’t be more delighted for him.

‘But can you imagine Arsene Wenger at the moment? He must be really, really disappointed to see Theo Walcott go over for a training session and now have him out for three months.

‘That is very disappointing and I can totally see that angle. Anyone who can’t see that managerial viewpoint must be crazy.

‘However, getting back to the playing aspect, it is great. I was a player myself and I loved playing international football.

‘There was great camaraderie and it was fantastic to go away and participate in the games.’