Ashley admits to big ambitions

With a year left on his contract and a number of top clubs said to
be showing an interest, Young deliberately avoided any in-depth
discussion of his future at England’s Watford training base on
Tuesday. The 25-year-old confirmed he intends to meet the Aston
Villa hierarchy on Monday to talk through his plans, although that
situation has been made even more complicated given manager Gerard
Houllier is likely to have left the club by then. However, Young’s
assessment of Manchester United’s defeat to Barcelona gave the game
away, with subsequent statements reaffirming a desire to take his
career to a level Villa simply cannot reach at the moment. “I
watched Saturday’s game as a player that wished I was out there
playing,” he said. “As a kid you always want to play in the biggest
competitions. I was no different. “Of course Barcelona are the best
team but, for Manchester United to get to the Champions League
final as well, it must mean that we have got teams in this country
that can match the best in Europe.” Sir Alex Ferguson would have
been heartened by those words if he is intent on following up his
initial interest by making a firm offer for the former Watford
star. Young insists his focus remains on England. Yet he is clearly
not oblivious to the swirl of gossip going on around him. “I have
always said I am going to talk to the chairman and manager after
this game,” he said. “I have given 100% in every game I have played
for Aston Villa. I am away with England now and my focus is fully
on Switzerland. “We know it is going to be a massive game but it is
always nice to have speculation.” Liverpool are also in the hunt
for Young’s services following his most consistent club season yet.
That form has been transferred onto the international stage too.
Young’s last three performances have been his best in an England
shirt, which, given the lack of strikers available to coach Fabio
Capello, should ensure he starts this weekend. “The last 12 months
have gone really well for me,” he said. “It has been a weird season
and a lot has happened but I feel I have progressed. “I always set
myself goals and targets from the start of the season and I have
reached quite a few of them. “I prefer to keep them to myself and
tick them off in my head. “But one aim is to be a regular starter
in the national team. Hopefully I will be in the team again on
Saturday.” A year ago, Young was coming to terms with the
disappointment of being one of the players axed from Capello’s
provisional World Cup squad. The heartache was enormous. Yet at no
stage did it affect his confidence, nor did Young concur with the
Italian’s belief that he lost an edge to his game when he pulled on
the Three Lions. “I didn’t feel that,” said Young. “I have never
doubted my ability. “There will always be people who do and
everybody is entitled to their opinion. “But my opinion is that I
can play in the biggest and best competitions. “I always want to
challenge myself. To challenge myself is to play in them big
competitions – hopefully one day I will be able to do that.” More
bad news for Villa it seems, with Young confirming he expects to be
hitting the highest points of his career during the time his next
contract will cover. “That is right,” he said. “I have grown as a
man every season. “I am getting older and am starting to become
wiser. “You see a bigger picture. I am 26 soon. As long as I keep
continuing to take the work I am putting in during training onto
the pitch I am sure I can keep growing. “Fingers crossed I can
start peaking at the right time.”