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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Young aims high at Villa Park
By Chris Bevan

Ashley Young
The Champions League has to be a realistic aim for us - that was one of the reasons I joined Villa

Ashley Young

Aston Villa forward Ashley Young can look back at his first season in the Premiership with some satisfaction.

It is less than 12 months since he helped fire Watford into the top flight with victory over Leeds in the play-off final in Cardiff.

The 21-year-old went on to play only 22 Premiership games for the Hornets before Villa manager Martin O'Neill signed him for 9.65m in January.

Villa suffered a slight slump in form after Young's arrival but he played an instrumental role in an end-of-season flourish that led to them being undefeated in their last nine games.

And, with billionaire American owner Randy Lerner promising O'Neill more money to spend on new blood in the summer, Young agrees the future looks bright for Villa, who missed out on a place in the Uefa Cup in the Fair Play draw for next season.

"The Champions League has to be a realistic aim for us," Young told BBC Sport. "That was one of the reasons I joined Villa.

BBC Sport's Chris Bevan

"I came here to play for a big club in Europe and, with Martin O'Neill in charge, you can't have a better combination.

"He has been there and he has done it. He has played there and managed there too - he wants that again and so do all the players - we have got high hopes of making it.

"Martin is a manager who is one of the greats. You never hear a bad word about him and all the players and coaches always talk about how well he has done in his career.

"Playing under him was one of the factors that brought me here and things are going well.

"Our form has been so good in recent weeks and we have shown what we are capable of. We are a young side and you can see the potential."

Ashley Young (r) and John Carew joined Villa in January
Martin O'Neill signed Young and John Carew for Villa in January

Young's hefty price tag drew plenty of attention when he moved to the Midlands but he is adamant it has not stopped him enjoying himself.

"From the time I signed up, until now, whenever people have asked me about that I have always said that it is a fee that was agreed by the two clubs," Young explained.

"I know it is about me but I just want to get on and play football. Everyone has kept saying how laid back I was about it but that is just my character really.

"Just being in the Premiership is a totally new world. There are world-class players everywhere.

"It has been the best season for me. Being promoted last year was fantastic but to be here and playing pretty much every game is where I want to be."

O'Neill does not need convincing either.

"There is no doubting Ashley's ability, I am surprised that anyone has done," he said.

"He can take players on either side and he can go past people. I am not saying he is renowned for great goalscoring but he has got a couple of goals for us and he has been terrific."

Off the pitch too, it is clear Young is contented.

He became a father for the first time in August 2006 but girlfriend Nicky and young son Tyler have not been affected by his move to Villa Park.

Of course I want to play for England's senior side, and hopefully one day my chance will come, but right now I am just thinking about the under-21 tournament with my country in the summer

Ashley Young

"You have always got to take your family into consideration," stated Young.

"But moving from down south to here wasn't really a problem because Tyler is still so young.

"And the club have been brilliant and so helpful. They have always only been a phone call away whenever we needed anything so it has been easy settling up here."

Young's season is not over just yet - he will be on England duty at the European Under-21 Championship in June.

The next target is a call-up to the senior side - but he is not getting carried away.

"It is a massive summer for me," he added.

"And as a kid you always want to play for your country and I was no different.

"Of course I want to play for England's senior side, and hopefully one day my chance will come, but right now I am just thinking about the under-21 tournament.

"I have just got to keep doing what I am doing and hopefully one day the call will come."

Villa miss out on Uefa Cup place
13 May 07 |  Aston Villa
Bolton 2-2 Aston Villa
13 May 07 |  Premiership
O'Neill handed transfer war chest
03 May 07 |  Aston Villa
O'Neill scoops managerial honour
04 May 07 |  Aston Villa
The O'Neill effect
24 Oct 06 |  Aston Villa
Young completes 9.65m Villa move
23 Jan 07 |  Aston Villa
Hornets still buzzing
14 Aug 06 |  Watford


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