Ashley Young intends to take the confidence gleaned from Villa’s historic win at Arsenal with him to Berlin as he bids for his fourth England cap tomorrow.
The 23-year-old has not featured in an international since the end of last season and will be looking to make up for lost time in Germany.
The Villa winger must get the nod over three in-form Premier League wide boys in Stewart Downing, Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips if he is to add to his 76 minutes in an England jersey.
Young has made three fleeting substitute appearances, against Austria in November (for 42 minutes), against Switzerland at Wembley in February (three minutes) and against Trinidad and Tobago at the end of the season when he came on for Downing before the hour.
“The goal for me is to build on what I have done so far”, he said. “I’ve always set targets for myself. I’ve got three caps and I would like to add to them.”
Despite his penalty miss at The Emirates, Young goes into the friendly in high spirits. “I have always said the key for me is playing well for Villa and hopefully the recognition from England will come hand-in-hand with that. Thankfully, it has and I have that chance,” he said.
“Now I want to train – and hopefully play in the game – and prove I deserve to be in the squad. I will go there confident – particularly after the result at Arsenal – and play my own game. I will do the things that have got me in the squad in the first place.”
Injuries to Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard forced their withdrawal yesterday, which would seem to indicate that Villa’s Gareth Barry would be a likely starter in Berlin for his 26th cap.
Jimmy Bullard and Scott Parker were called up as replacements with only Michael Carrick in the frame for the central midfield spots.
Barry and Young are not alone in terms of Villa representation. The club had an unprecedented five players picked for Fabio Capello’s first provisional squad last February for the friendly with Switzerland: Scott Carson, Curtis Davies, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Barry and Young, although Davies was then omitted and Agbonlahor injured. All five have made it this time – although goalkeeper Carson is now with Albion.
Davies said his call-up capped a memorable few weeks on and off the field.
Dropped from the Villa side for four games following a home draw with Portsmouth, he returned to take the skipper’s armband in the UEFA Cup tie against Slavia Prague. His baby daughter Isla was born on his return to the country.
“This just shows how quickly things can change in football because, a while back, I wasn’t in the Villa team,” Davies said.
“It’s capped off an amazing few weeks for me. I got back into the team in Prague as captain, I have just had a baby girl and now I’m in the England squad. It’s fantastic.
“It must have been a big performance at the right time at Arsenal.
“I now want to enjoy the experience. There’s no point making a massive effort to impress because I think you can try too hard and freeze up. I want to be myself and do what I do best.”
Agbonlahor also expressed his delight. “It’s great to be called up and I am really looking forward to linking up with the other lads,” he said.
“It’s a real honour for Villa to have four players included in the squad and hopefully we’ll all impress,” he said.
nPeter Aldis – an integral member of Villa’s 1957 FA Cup-winning team – has died at the age of 81.
Aldis was a hard-working left-back who joined Villa from Hay Green in November 1948, turning professional the following January. He gave the club tremendous service before moving into non-league football with Hinckley Athletic in July 1960.
He appeared in 294 league and cup games in claret and blue.
nVilla’s home third-round FA Youth Cup tie with Arsenal will be played at Villa Park on Wednesday December 10 (7pm).