Martin O’Neill has urged Aston Villa to take advantage of on-song winger Ashley Young becoming a marked man by opposition defences.
Young cost an initial £8million when he was signed from Watford in January, and even O’Neill admitted he paid over the odds for the player.
But Young has developed to such an extent that rival teams are double-marking the player who made his full England debut in last month’s international against Austria in Vienna. Now O’Neill wants Villa to exploit the gaps left by the extra attention paid to Young.
O’Neill said: "If you had said to me that within one year Ashley would have played for the full England team, then I would have been surprised. But I’m delighted with him and all the things he is showing; I always thought he was capable of producing.
"It is getting to the stage where people are definitely keeping an eye on him, definitely double-covering him.
"People are making changes to combat him. Sunderland changed their side around last weekend to accommodate him.
"That is great credit to Ashley. But it is something we have to try and utilise to our advantage, with the extra space that may become available elsewhere."
O’Neill will again move into the transfer market during the forthcoming January transfer window to bolster one of the smallest squads in the top flight.
He said: "We have a good platform and we want to try and do something in the market. I would like to build the squad up a bit.
"Last January it was imperative that I did something. I still think it is really important this time, and we have been fortunate with injuries.
"If we had encountered the same problems as West Ham this season with injuries then we would be in almighty trouble.
"We have got opportunities next month to add to our numbers. I accept you sometimes have to pay over the odds in January - but it is something we need to address."