After tearing Arsenal apart, can Agbonlahor end his four year England exile?

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert dubbed Agbonlahor 'unplayable' at The Emirates yesterday... can he get back in the England fold?

What a week it has been for Rickie Lambert. If your wife giving birth to a healthy baby girl wasn’t enough cause for celebration, then scoring with your first touch in an England jersey is certainly a reason to cheer. Add to that his excellent penalty strike, to earn The Saints victory on the opening day of the season, away to West Brom, and quite frankly who would Rickie Lambert rather be right now.

Now he is in the England set-up, obviously the difficult part of the job is then maintaining a place in the team. History is littered with player who have entered the fray and then quickly dropped out of favour for the Three Lions - David Nugent, Francis Jeffers and Kevin Davies all immediately spring to mind.

But it is not just the one-cap wonders who end up with this fate, others simply never cement their place in the team. If Lambert is looking for an example at international level not to follow, it would be Aston Villa star Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Agbonlahor made his international debut for England in 2008, starring in a friendly victory over Germany in Berlin. He went on to play two further times for his country - against Spain and Belarus - interestingly, he started all three of his international caps.

But that game against Belarus in October 2009 was the last time he played for England.

Since then his form has dipped amid injury problems and some life struggles off the pitch and he has not had anything like a sniff of international football over the past four years.

But yesterday he was absolutely outstanding as Aston Villa tormented Arsenal on their home patch - winning the game 3-1.

Agbonlahor gave the Arsenal defence a torrid time, as his electric pace appeared to have returned. He finished last season in great form and looks ready to carry it on in 2013-14. And while I cannot talk, he appears to have lost a good amount of weight over pre-season, which is surely helping him regain that pace that had Premier League defences previously so horrified.

It was a performance given special praise by Villa boss Paul Lambert:

"I think everybody up and down the country thought it was a home banker probably. But I've got lads in here who are really top footballers and I thought Agbonlahor was just unplayable.  I thought he was absolutely fantastic, it was as good a performance as I've seen from an individual in many a year - nobody can catch him when he's in that form. But he's been like that probably the last four months of last season and he's started this season the way he has."

Playing alongside Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke will see him have ample opportunity to demonstrate his ability, and based on the evidence on show yesterday - you cannot discount him getting on the plane to Brazil next summer.

Can Agbonlahor earn back his England place this season?

image: © Dagur Brynjólfsson

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