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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 22:46 GMT
Young tipped for big Villa impact
By Charlie Henderson

Ashley Young
Ashley has great ability and a mature head on his shoulders for such a young kid

Ferdinand on Young
Former England striker Les Ferdinand says Ashley Young will be a huge hit at Aston Villa after his 9.65m switch.

Ferdinand worked with the 21-year-old winger at Watford last season and says comparisons with Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo are not over the top.

"If Ashley plays how he knows he can play, that fee will look like a snip," Ferdinand told BBC Sport.

"And if he harnesses his ability in the right way he can have as big an impact at Villa as Ronaldo has had at United."

606 DEBATE: Your thoughts on the move

Ferdinand was on the Watford coaching staff last season and saw Young's quality first hand.

The England Under-21 international scored 15 goals in helping the Hornets secure promotion to the Premiership and made an immediate impression on Ferdinand.

"They were talking very highly of him even then, but I thought he looked a little lightweight and a little too thin to make it in the Premiership," Ferdinand said of the 5ft 9in, 9st 9lb Young.

"However, when I saw him play I realised he wouldn't have a problem making the grade.

"When you saw him in training, and in matches, you knew he was a bit special."

I think he's got great talent, a really good future and I think he can play - it's as simple as that

Martin O'Neill on Young

Villa manager Martin O'Neill is happy to spend a "shilling or two over" as he is investing in the long term on a player he describes as "a great talent with a terrific future".

And Ferdinand says Young must ignore the price tag, and the reaction to it, and play his natural game.

"As a player you've no control over what someone pays for you," added the former QPR, Newcastle and Tottenham forward who twice moved club for 6m.

"At this moment in time he is unproven in the Premiership and the fee will raise eyebrows.

"But he mustn't go there and play like he thinks a 9m or 10m player has to play. He needs to be himself.

"Although Watford have not had the best of results this season and have been struggling in the Premiership, he has still shone in certain games."

Born: 9 July 1985
Debut: 13 September 2003
Matches: 110; Goals: 22
In the Premiership:
Debut: 19 August 2006
Matches: 20; Goals: 3
England Under-21:
Debut: 6 September 2006
Matches: 4; Goals: 0

He has scored three times in 20 league starts this term and also slotted against Hull in the League Cup.

But it is more than his goal-getting that attracted confirmed interest from Villa and West Ham in the transfer window as well as links with Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Having been rejected as a youngster by Watford, Young battled back to earn a contract at Vicarage Road and scored on his debut after coming off the bench against Millwall in September 2003.

He won the club's Young Player of the Season award in 2004/05 and then blossomed in 2005/06.

"Ashley was definitely the pick of the bunch at Watford last season" said Ferdinand.

"One thing I like when I watch young players is to see their hunger for the game and his appetite for football is great.

"After training he was always out there practising his free-kicks and working on his crossing.

"And he's versatile as well in that he can play on the right-side of midfield or just behind the frontmen. I've also seen him play on the left-hand side and up front."

With 20 or 21-year-olds you can read a lot about them being Jack the lads, but he was and is nothing like that

Ferdinand on Young

Ferdinand admits there are areas that need improvement, but believes O'Neill is the right man to help Young iron out any shortcomings and realise his potential.

"He's a typical winger in that he's not brave and tackling's not a strong point - although he's not afraid to go into a tackle," Ferdinand adds.

"And he's not a good header of the ball.

"But when the positives outweigh the negatives you know you've got something good to work with."

Young, who has a young family, is close to his brothers Lewis and Kyle, who are at Watford's academy, and leaving Hertfordshire will be a wrench.

But Ferdinand sees that familial bond as a sign of the type of man the player is off the pitch.

"With 20 or 21-year-olds you can read a lot about them being Jack the lads, but he was and is nothing like that," he added.

"He's a nice fella on and off the pitch, was always concerned about his brothers and watched them train.

"As well as that ability he has a mature head on his shoulders for such a young kid."

It sounds as if O'Neill has got himself the complete package.

Young completes 9.65m Villa move
23 Jan 07 |  Aston Villa
Young agrees to Aston Villa move
20 Jan 07 |  Aston Villa
Watford reject 7m bid for Young
12 Jan 07 |  Watford


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