Agbonlahor claims derby spoils for Villa

ASTON VILLA manager Martin O&rsquo;Neill talked up Gabriel Agbonlahor&rsquo;s World Cup credentials after the England striker snatched a late victory in the Birmingham derby.<br /><br />Agbonlahor nodded past Blues goalkeeper Joe Hart from close range with just five minutes remaining, after John Carew had flicked on Ashley Young&rsquo;s free-kick.<br /><br />It took Agbonlahor&rsquo;s tally to three goals in his last three games against Villa&rsquo;s local rivals, and provided further evidence that he is over the slump he suffered earlier in the year.<br /><br />The 22-year-old has not featured for England since February&rsquo;s friendly defeat to Spain, but O&rsquo;Neill believes he is still firmly in the running for a place at next summer&rsquo;s finals in South Africa. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m delighted for Gabby. Goals help his confidence enormously. It&rsquo;s a big lift for him. He was excellent against Liverpool and Fulham and again today,&rdquo; said O&rsquo;Neill. &ldquo;Until the World Cup gathers momentum I&rsquo;ve not got a major worry. If he continues to play and perform right through the season there&rsquo;s no reason for him to be disregarded.&rdquo;<br /><br />O&rsquo;Neill also hailed new defensive trio Richard Dunne, James Collins and Stephen Warnock, who all shone on their debuts as Villa clinched a third successive win.<br /><br />Birmingham manager Alex McLeish, meanwhile, felt aggrieved at conceding so late in a tight contest.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is harsh result. There is no doubt about that. We played really well and got about Villa,&rdquo; McLeish said. &ldquo;Their goal was a free header and we&rsquo;ve just got to deal with those balls. The Premier League is about concentration, pace and quality and concentration undid us a little bit.&rdquo;<br /><br />The goal came when Young&rsquo;s lofted set-piece from the right was helped on by substitute Carew and Agbonlahor took advantage of slack marking. He might have added a second late on but blazed over.