Villa boss O’Neill praises Agbonlahor

He said: “Gabby has had a wonderful season regardless of what has happened around him. He has played more games than even he would have envisaged.

“I know there was a period in the season where, if we had a bigger squad, we might have been able to take him out of the firing line for a game or two to let him have a look from the bench or the stands.

“But he has played through those things. He got a big lift from getting the goal against Everton last week and he has continued that confidence-boosting run since then.

“He signed a contract but he is not one of those who will sit on his laurels and decide ‘I have done enough.’ This lad wants to improve. He has got lots to do still. He knows that himself but it has all been very encouraging.

“He has gone to great lengths to try and keep things in perspective and that’s the best thing to do.”