Nigel should be aiming for 2008 says O'Neill

Last updated at 15:32 05 October 2007

Martin O'Neill believes Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker is capable of breaking into the England squad for the Euro 2008 finals as he prepares to face former club West Ham for the first time since his £8.5million summer switch.

Reo-Coker skippered the England Under-21 side during the European Championship finals in Holland in June before making the move to Villa Park.

Nigel Reo-Coker

He has made an impressive start under O'Neill who has confidence in the former Wimbledon player to make the senior international breakthrough along with Villa team-mates Gareth Barry, Ashley Young and Scott Carson.

O'Neill said: "There were other teams very interested in signing him. I was very pleased he decided to come to us. West Ham told us there were other offers and I was very pleased to get him.

"He has done well for us and is very conscientious. He is still finding his feet here and that is pleasing because there is much more to come from him.

"I think if England qualify for Euro 2008, which you would expect them to, then Nigel would have time to make a big enough impression to be heading with that squad to Austria and Switzerland in the summer time.

"That should be a driving ambition of his - and I am sure it is."

O'Neill is happy with the way Reo-Coker and Barry have combined in the centre of the park but is not getting carried away with first impressions.

He said: "All those things I thought I saw from a distance, Nigel has shown so far for us.

"I think his game has helped Gareth although Gareth has been making significant progress for some time and he was a very good player before Nigel arrived at the club.

"Gareth has done a lot himself but I would accept the fact that there has also been some sort of influence on the side from Nigel.

"They are doing fine as a pairing, and they are playing strongly together, and I am very pleased for both of them, but it is early yet to make positive assumptions you expect to last for the rest of the season."

O'Neill was disappointed to see his side surrender a three-goal lead in the final 20 minutes and have to settle for a 4-4 draw at Tottenham on Monday.

But that will not result in him becoming more conservative in his approach to the Hammers game as he vowed to continue Villa's attacking policy.

O'Neill said: "I suppose if you look at how the game was looking with 20 minutes to go, you would say that it was two points dropped.

"But for long periods we played very well and the side gaining more experience, I would hope we would hang on the next time in the same circumstances.

"We can take plenty of positives out of the game and it won't in any way change our policy. Our idea is to go out and attack. That is what we are best suited to.

"Nothing that happened at White Hart Lane will change our policy. If we had had an opportunity, we would have gone for a fifth goal.

"You do have to remember that Tottenham are a very good side with strikers as good as any in the Premier League and more experienced sides than us have succumbed to a bit of pressure."

Shaun Maloney will be pushing for a place in the starting line-up after recovering from an ankle problem. But John Carew (knee) and Patrik Berger (calf) are still ruled out.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now