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."