Elder statesman Young relishes England return

LONDON (AFP) – After reaching a low point in his Manchester United career last season, Ashley Young is savouring the turnaround that has seen him end a four-year exile from the England squad.

Young was scarcely seen at United during Jose Mourinho’s first season as manager, making only eight Premier League starts and missing out on the club’s Europa League triumph against Ajax.

But he has returned to the starting XI in recent weeks, in a new left wing-back role, and his displays have been sufficiently impressive to earn him a first England call-up since 2013.

“I think there did come a point last season where I wasn’t in the squad, wasn’t even making the 18,” the 32-year-old told reporters at England’s St George’s Park training centre this week.

“It was disappointing, but I have never thought about leaving the club. I’ve always got that determination to get back in the squad and get back playing.”

Ashley Young’s impressive run in his new role as left/wing back under Jose Mourinho has earned him a call-up to England’s national side. – AFP

Young made his name, firstly with Watford and then Aston Villa, as a quicksilver winger and also has experience of playing at number 10.

But he was re-deployed as a full-back or wing-back under former United manager Louis van Gaal and has continued to play there under Mourinho.

While he admits he would rather be playing in a more attacking position, he is proud of the manner in which he has adapted his game.

“As a footballer, you want to play week in, week out,” said Young.

“I’d prefer it if I was playing further up the pitch, but I’ve been able to adapt and play as a left-back or a right-back and as a wing-back.

“I’m one of those players who can read the game well. I’ve got that experience as well to be clever, knowing where to be, when to attack, when to defend.

“It’s been quite easy to adjust to the position and with the help of my team-mates, I feel like I have done it really well.”