No burn-out fears for Albrighton

The 21-year-old all but cemented his place in England Under-21 boss

Stuart Pearce’s 23-man squad for the European Championships with an

impressive performance against Iceland on Monday. The result was

the only negative of the night for Albrighton, with Villa club-mate

Nathan Delfouneso’s early goal eventually counting for nothing as

the visitors came from behind to win 2-1. Much of the talk around

the match was of potential battles between club and country for the

tournament in Denmark in June. Pearce has already declared his

intention to pick his strongest available squad, meaning Arsenal

midfielder Jack Wilshere and Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, now

regulars in the senior side, are set to be included. However,

Wilshere’s club-mate Theo Walcott is not under consideration after

being part of the squad two years ago when England lost to Germany

in the final. The 22-year-old suffered a succession of injuries the

following season and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger would be concerned

about the same happening to Wilshere. Albrighton, though, has no

such worries despite the tournament coming at the end of his first

full season with the Villa first team. The winger said: “There’s

nothing like competitive football, it’s what you strive for, and to

be going away with your country is a big honour. If I can get

picked for that squad it would be great for me. “It would be nice

to put my feet up but there’s nothing better than playing football,

it’s what I love doing. “I’m only 21, there’s no chance of me

burning out. I’d play every day if I could.” Pearce chose to rest a

lot of his higher-profile players for yesterday’s match against

another European Championship finalist but the result was still a

blow. England will have one more friendly, against Norway at

Southampton on June 5, before the start of the tournament a week

later, where they have been drawn in the same group as Spain,

Ukraine and Czech Republic. With Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and

Belarus in the other group, England look to have the tougher route

through, but Albrighton remains confident. He said: “Our group is a

very hard group. The other group might not have the big names in

it, but we’ll still go there with plenty of confidence and look to

win it. “Our confidence is still there and still high. We’ve

slipped up but the gaffer said after the game that this time two

years ago they lost 2-0 to France and then they got to the final,

so it could be a good omen. “Every player in the squad has got an

unbelievable amount of talent and nearly all of them are playing

regular first-team football, whether it’s in the Premier League or

in the Championship.” Albrighton was one of a number of Villa

players to star in an England shirt in recent days, with Ashley

Young and Darren Bent both playing key roles in the senior side’s

2-0 win over Wales on Saturday. And Albrighton believes the club’s

success on the international stage can be traced back to former

manager Martin O’Neill’s transfer policy. “Martin O’Neill, when he

was here, looked for young English talent and he brought that in,”

said Albrighton. “Now we’ve got Benty as well and the English

talent at the football club is great at the moment. “Ashley Young

was brilliant, Benty was brilliant, Stewart Downing when he got on

played well, and for me to be learning off players like that is

great.” Current Villa boss Gerard Houllier will now hope his

players can take their international form into the Premier League,

with the club sitting only one point above the relegation zone

ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton. Albrighton added: “We’ve got a

massive game at the weekend but we’ll go there with plenty of

confidence and look to win the game. “It’s a strange position for

us to be in but we’ve got eight games left and we’ll look to win

all of them.”