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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Ashley Young: Why won't Capello pick him for England?

If Fabio Capello really believes that Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing is a better player and deserves an England call-up ahead of the in-form Ashley Young then I'm gonna drag him down to Specssavers by his ankles.

The Italian is set to name his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Belarus on Sunday and there will be a lot of dumbfounded people if the 23-year-old former Watford winger is not in his plans. What does he have to do to feature in the national squad?

The Aston Villa ace just keeps getting better and better and it's criminal the way Capello has overlooked him for England. He has an amazing turn of pace, delivers superb balls into the box on the run or from dead balls and his free-kicks are out of the top draw. He also has the ability to put the ball in the back of the net with four goals to his name already this season. But his biggest asset, in my eyes, is his ability to create an extra yard for himself in order to get the ball into the danger zone and the credit for that must go to Villa's number two and former Nottingham Forest star John Robertson, who was a major star in Cloughie's glory days at the City Ground.

Compare that to Stewart Downing for instance who has failed to make an impression on the international stage, has missed two penalties for Middlesbrough since his return from an uninspiring display against Andorra and is still seeking his first goal this season. On that basis you'd think there's no comparison. However, Capello, who opted to play Downing, 24, ahead of Young in the friendlies against the USA and Trinidad and Tobago in the summer, is believed to be a big admirer of the Middlesbrough star. Maybe Downing has more of the so-called big game experience but look at the impact Theo Walcott had on the game against Croatia, and he's only 19. Imagine the raw pace of Walcott down the right and Young down the left? The opposition full-backs would be absolutely bricking it!

When Capello first took charge he said he wasn't going to be influenced by reputations and would pick players on form. Well here's his chance to prove it, especially with Steven Gerrard back from injury. Downing couldn't hit a cow's backside with a banjo while Ashley Young is tearing defences to shreds week in, week out. If ever anyone deserved an England call up it's Young.

However, I'm all for keeping a winning team together and the way England destroyed Croatia in Zagreb should, barring injuries, result in the same 11 starting against Kazakhstan on October 11. But if Joe Cole, who has been struggling with knocks recently, isn't passed fit for the double header then it would be the ideal opportunity to give Ashley Young the chance to show what he can do.

Aston Villa defender Curtis Davies insists that Ashley Young is one of the best English players in the game and told the Birmingham Mail that Young is even better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Would I swap him for any other winger? Not at the moment. You could talk about Ronaldo but the way Ash plays – right or left – I don’t think anyone can cope with it when he whips balls in.

“He is one of the best players I have played with. We have got some good players here but he is our most important because he is the one who is going to make something happen.

“If we did not have Ash, we would be a different team. He means that much to us and we are doing that well, so I am sure he is good enough for England."

Even Antony Melvin, editor of this website, believes that the time is now for Ashley Young to be given a chance.

"Ashley Young is a severely under-rated player generally. This seems especially odd given that such an astute manager as Martin O'Neill was prepared to pay a team well on the way to relegation to the Championship £10m to buy him in January 2007. It is no coincidence that Aidy Boothroyd and Watford tried to hang on to him until relegation seemed inevitable, but when survival hopes faded they sold up.

"Reports at the time suggested that six Premier League teams were prepared to offer £5m - £10m but only Villa offered a deal acceptable to both Young and Watford. Last season Young was in the Premier League Team of the Season and rightly called into the England squad largely on the back of his fabulous dead ball technique and attacking verve.

"To be honest when so many managers want to sign him, when so many good judges rate him and when the stats (like 17 assists last term) start to pile up the only real question is why is he not already an England regular? He has the dead ball ability to replace David Beckham, he has the pace to offer a superb counter-attacking outlet, the discipline of a Martin O'Neill player and a left foot capable of solving England's issues there for the next decade. At 23 Ashley Young's time has surely come."

The calls for Ashley Young to be called up to the England squad is getting louder and louder by the day, but will Capello bow to public pressure? We'll find out on Sunday.

* Calling all Aston Villa and England fans. Do you think Young deserves an England call up? What would he give the national team? Are Villa fans happy that he isn't involved with England so he puts in the displays for his club? Do you think Downing is a better player than Young? We'd love to hear from you.

COMMENTS

PaelE

Young is a quality player, but his left foot has little quality. He nearly always cuts back onto his right which is what many of the left sided england players have had to do.

Even for Villa in the Premiership if he tries to go down the line he invariably seems to run into the back of the defender, drop to the floor and appeal for obstruction!

His set piece delivery is quality and he scores goals. He has played for England before and not delivered.

Downing had a good season last year scoring 10 goals and delivers good quality into the box. I remember TV pundits caning him in one game, can't remember against who, despite him setting up three goals.

This season he's not on form, so far, but his overall game is still good: genuine two footed, athletic and will run all day, defensivly he will do his covering and tracking back and if England had strikers of any stature his best asset: delivery, would be realised, well by those with their eyes open.

Do you really think you know more about football than Capello?

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