Albrighton hoping to ‘push on’

The 21-year-old winger was handed his first Premier League start

last term and went on to score five goals in 29 league appearances

to help Villa finish ninth. That looked an impossible target when

Villa were third-bottom in early January and they were as low as

16th with just seven games left. But with Ashley Young having left

for Manchester United this summer, Albrighton aims to have an even

bigger impact next term under new boss Alex McLeish. “It’s been a

bit strange for me because I’ve gone from strength to strength and

I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he told the Sunday Mercury. “I

felt like throughout the season I got better, which was great.

“There have been some bad times because collectively we didn’t have

the best of seasons, and there were some disappointing results and

games that we should have won, so on that note, it has not been

great. “There was a stage when we realised it was going to be a

poor season and the aim was to see it out, build for next season

and hope it will be better,” Albrighton added. “But on a personal

level it’s been brilliant and I hope to keep going and pushing on.”

Albrighton was also rewarded with an England Under-21 call-up for

this summer’s European Championship. Yet it could have been so

different had Martin O’Neill remained as manager. Kevin MacDonald

became caretaker boss following O’Neill’s departure and Albrighton

didn’t look back after being named in the starting line-up for the

opening-day win over West Ham. “Playing so much is a great feeling

and I have to thank Kev for giving me my chance,” he said. “Who

knows what would have happened if Martin O’Neill hadn’t left before

the season started. I might not have played at all. “I still don’t

know my best position because I swap wings a lot. It’s quite handy

if you can play on the left and cut inside and have a shot on your

stronger foot. But I enjoy playing whether it’s on the right or the

left. “I just have to focus on improving and playing well. Next

season will be big for the club and for me.”