Ashley Young has outlined his ambition to secure a place in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The Englishman, who was linked with a move away last summer following a lack of game time under Jose Mourinho, has enjoyed a superb resurgence this season, making 30 appearances in all competitions.
His endeavours have been rewarded with a one year extension on his current contract and recall to the England side after a four year absence.
And Young, speaking ahead of England’s friendly with the Netherlands on Friday, laid out his ambition to secure a place on the plane in June.
“I feel like I am playing with confidence, I have done all season,” he said. “I’ve been playing more than I thought I would.”
“I’ve wanted to cement my place in the team and I am back in the England squad, which I am delighted to be in. There’s a World Cup at the end of it [season]. Who knows what’s going to happen? I’ve just got to be impressive to the England manager and hopefully be on that plane.”
Southgate’s decision to draft in Young may look like a standard call-up to a player enjoying a decent patch of form for his club, but the thinking behind it goes far deeper than that.
England lack plenty of things as a footballing unit and one glaring shortcoming has always been their composure: game management, authority on the ball, a sense for the occasion.
And with England set to play three at the back in Russia, the introduction of Young’s big-game knowhow – think Chelsea last season, think Liverpool this season – is a strong step in the right direction.
This is not to say that Young is without his own faults. But his versatility on the pitch and acumen in the dressing room gives England something they have too often lacked at major tournaments.