Aston Villa’s prolific Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young have been described as “irreplaceable” by team-mate Luke Young ahead of tomorrow’s return to Premier League action at West Ham.

In readiness for the trip to Upton Park, the England hopefuls were among a host of influential first-teamers spared the UEFA Cup trip to Germany for Wednesday evening’s defeat to Hamburg.

Luke Young, one of just three regular starters to feature in the 3-1 reverse, supports manager Martin O’Neill’s decision to rest his namesake and Agbonlahor ahead of the hectic festive schedule.

The versatile defender believes it imperative the 17-goal duo remain fit if Villa are to further aspirations domestically and in Europe.

“It is crucial people like Gabby and Ashley stay fit for the remainder of the season. Definitely,” said Young. “You have a few players who are irreplaceable.With some players, one can come in for another but, when you’ve got the likes of Gabby up there with his pace, it is hard to bring someone else in like that.

“It is not the biggest squad and, up front at the moment with big John Carew out, if Gabby was to get injured, we would be a little bit light with only Marlon Harewood and Nathan Delfouneso left.

“Then we also have Ashley at the minute who is really on fire. You need to keep everyone fit, especially your top players. Gabby and Ashley are causing problems and creating havoc together.”

Villa visit Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham looking for their sixth away win of the season and with the newfound ability to win games when below-par.

Luke Young puts Villa’s knack of grinding out results down to the firepower they possess with Ashley Young, Agbonlahor and winger James Milner, name-checked by England head coach Fabio Capello last week.

“At the minute, even if we are not playing well, we can have a 10-minute spell where we can score a couple and put games to bed the way Ash, Gabby and James Milner are breaking,” said Luke Young. “Sometimes it frightens teams and perhaps is why some are coming to Villa Park and playing defensively. We have got players teams are wary of.

“As a defender, when I’ve been involved in teams before, like at Charlton, we were looking for a spark and someone to break teams down and we probably didn’t really have it. Now we’ve got the lads up front that make life easy for you. If you are doing your job at the back, you know you are going to score goals.”