Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill has defended Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s reliance on young foreign talent and insisted: "It is not his job to make the England side better."
O’Neill has gone down the route of opting to buy and develop up and coming English players since taking charge at Aston Villa 16 months ago.
The likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young, Gareth Barry, Luke Moore and Nigel Reo-Coker have all played for their country and either senior or under-21 level. But the Irishman, whose side face the Gunners tomorrow evening, does not believe Wenger has a responsibility to try to help England amidst much discussion about the possibility of ’quotas’ of foreign players being introduced by FIFA.
And O’Neill admitted his next couple of signings may also be of foreign origin as Villa bid to clock up a fifth successive win and cement their place in the top six.
O’Neill said: "People say having few English players at Arsenal does not help England - but that is not Arsene Wenger’s job. His job is not to make the England national side better. His job is to win football games for Arsenal. He has done that consistently and brilliantly for 10 years.
"My own view is that if you are good enough, you will come through. It might take a bit longer but you will come through. The point I make is if you have some English players playing in those great sides, as Arsenal did with the whole back four at one stage, then, with playing alongside great foreign players, they can only improve.
"We have gone down a certain route at the moment with having quite a few English players. Whether it is fruitful in the long term, who knows? It is a route I am kind of following now.
"But our next couple of signings might be really decent foreign players. My job is also to try to win enough football games for Villa for me to try to keep this process going. I am delighted with some of the young English players we have. Agbonlahor and Young are thriving at the moment which is great and Barry has earned his place in the England team.
"But if you are a club manager, and if you job is to win games for your club, then it shouldn’t matter who you sign and Arsene has built some really great teams."
Villa will be brimming with confidence after winning four league games in a row for the first time in seven and a half years but O’Neill believes they are still not the finished article.
He said: "Are Villa ready to challenge Arsenal? I think we’ve got a bit to do to perform consistently like that. It doesn’t mean that we are not capable of playing very well tomorrow and I think we are capable of winning.
"I am delighted with the way things are going because to win a number of consecutive games in the Premier League, especially when the last three with Birmingham, Middlesbrough and Blackburn have all been away.
"When we finished our last home game against Derby some time ago, I remember thinking that the next time we were at home against Arsenal, I wouldn’t know where we would be.
"With three games coming up all away, I was very concerned but we got the great win against Birmingham and my own view is that set us up for the other two matches."
Reo-Coker is ruled out through suspension after incurring five bookings but Agbonlahor and Stiliyan Petrov should be fit after suffering ankle injuries against Blackburn.