EMILE HESKEY has denied saying he is considering leaving Aston Villa in order to increase his chances of securing a place in England’s World Cup squad.
Speaking after the qualifying defeat in Ukraine last Saturday, the 31-year-old questioned his future at Villa Park, fearing a lack of first-team action would jeopardise his place in South Africa next summer.
Immediately, reports were linking the burly front man with moves back to former clubs Liverpool and Wigan, but Heskey now insists he was misquoted and has pledged to future to the midlands club.
“I didn’t say I want to quit Villa or anything like that,” he told the club website. “The manager Martin O’Neill knows what I’m like. I have spoken to him and explained the quotes. I am a Villa player and in spite of what the headlines say – I’m not going to quit.”
Heskey has made only one Premier League start for Villa this season but has played a vital role in England’s qualifying campaign, starting in six of the ten matches.
But with a record of just seven goals in 57 international caps, and fellow target men Peter Crouch and Carlton Cole in top form, Heskey’s place has come under increasing pressure.
Finally, the big striker confessed he needed more club starts to earn his England place, but now says his comments were taken out of context amid the disappointment of England’s defeat. “After a game, you are faced with about 10 million questions,” he explained. “Most of my replies were one-word answers, and then I read headlines saying I’m going to quit Villa and things like that. It confused me a little. I am here to fight for my place like any other player. Everyone is in the same ballpark – they want to play and they are ready to fight.
“I’m not running away from things – you have to embrace the challenge. These are the hurdles you have to get over.”