Martin O'Neill has urged Aston Villa winger Ashley Young not to be overawed when he joins up with England as he looks to stake a late claim to be part of Fabio Capello's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad.
Capello saw Young turn in an outstanding performance for Villa during yesterday's exciting 2-2 Barclays Premier League home draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers. The former Watford player set up the first of John Carew's two goals and delivered a constant stream of menacing crosses throughout the 90 minutes.
O'Neill is aware of the perception the normally confident and bubbly Young goes into his shell when he has joined up with his country. But he has told him to go and reproduce his club performances with Capello having made it clear he selects players who are in form.
O'Neill said: "Does Young lack a bit of confidence when with England? He might do. I don't know that. That is something that seems to be on the rumour mill, that he doesn't exude the same self-confidence.
"If that is the case, I understand that. Sometimes you get someone believing in you, which I do with Ashley Young who is naturally vibrant. But sometimes when they go away and are mixing with a group of other people, sometimes you don't want to be the same character because you think of all those great players England possess who have been there and done it.
"There is a tendency to be a wee bit quiet, but it doesn't mean you should desert your own character." O'Neill added: "Ashley doesn't have to go and show off with England. All he has to do is go in and perform in the manner he has for his club, because that is what Mr. Capello is doing, picking players on club form."
More from Carew
Carew took his goal tally to 13 for the campaign and O'Neill is hoping he can stay fit and in form for the remainder of the season, particularly with top scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor having picked up a foot injury.
O'Neill said: "John is coming into good form at the moment and seems to have been clear of the little niggles which have affected him this year. I hope he can stay fit between now and the end of the season, as we will need him. We will need everybody. You've got to get in there, got to score them - and he did that on both occasions."
Dunne not done
O'Neill is also concerned about the fitness of central defender Richard Dunne, who suffered an Achilles injury against Wolves. The Villa manager said: "Gabby was sore on the morning of the game. He finished Friday's training session and then went off feeling very sore and yesterday morning there was no improvement. I'll have news for you on Monday.
"Richard Dunne did well to come out for the second half because he has got an Achilles problem. He was very sore at half-time, but we'll monitor it and see how it goes. Is that the number of games catching up with him? I think it is a combination of those things."
New Wolves deals
Wolves have moved four points clear of the bottom three after following up their win at Burnley with another point at Villa Park. And manager Mick McCarthy revealed fit-again midfielder David Jones has followed defender Jody Craddock and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann in being offered a new contract.
Jones has just over 12 months remaining of his current three-year deal and has put his knee problem behind him. McCarthy said: "David was injured. He was getting over this knee and we had to protect him. We all know of his ability. His technical ability is not in question.
"He is another one that we have offered a new contract to, but he had to get into the team and play and he has done it."
Hahnemann believes Wolves are starting to show good form at the crucial stage of the campaign. He said: "Are we safe? No, another ten points and we are safe. But the good thing is we are playing well at the right times. We had our bad luck at the beginning of the season.
"Everything has been going well recently, and we're playing really good stuff. That is the important thing.
Craddock's fifth goal of the season and a James Milner own goal cancelled out Carew's opener before the Norwegian international struck again seven minutes from time.