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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 22:41 GMT
Young enjoying Watford resurgence

By Chris Bevan

Ashley Young
Young has scored 10 goals for Watford this season

Watford's form in the Championship this season has surprised a few people - but not Hornets striker Ashley Young.

The 20-year-old has had an impressive campaign so far - scoring 10 goals that have helped the Vicarage Road side up to fourth in the table.

When Watford coach Adrian Boothroyd took over in March 2005, Young was a winger who flitted in and out of the first-team.

In the months since, Young has undergone a Thierry Henry-like transformation into an out-and-out striker - and he thanks Boothroyd for giving him the opportunity to show what he can do.

Young told BBC Sport: "I am really enjoying myself. The new boss came in and he has brought his own style.

"Training has been good, it is of a high standard.

"And I am playing regularly too. That helps, it gives you confidence and I have gone from strength to strength.

I set myself targets every day and go into training looking to learn things. Hopefully I can keep getting improving too
Ashley Young

"I started playing as a striker when we had a few injuries. That was my position in the youth team and I had been playing up front in training too.

"The boss gave me a chance and it has paid off. But to be honest I don't mind where I play - up front, or on the wing - I like both."

Young is one of several youngsters who Boothroyd has brought into his side - with the likes of Anthony McNamee, Jordan Stewart, Lloyd Doyley and Jay DeMerit also making a name for themselves in recent months.

"It is great to see the amount of youngsters doing well," Young said. "The academy produces quite a few and there is a good mixture at the club.

"The senior players help you along on the pitch and off it. Their experience is vital - there is a good mix of old heads and young players which bodes well for the future.

"From the chairman and directors down to the manager and the players the set-up is really good and the club is progressing well."

That combination has put Watford in a strong position for a play-off place - but Young insists a top-two finish is still possible despite his side lying 14 points behind second-placed Sheffield United.

Age: 20
Height: 5ft 9in
Starts: 55 (Sub: 26)
Goals: 12

He added: "We are doing well in the League and are still getting better. Of course we think we can still make the second automatic place - and we have not given up on catching Reading either.

"The boss wants automatic promotion - that was drilled into everybody from the start of the season.

"That is still our target. The way we played in pre-season we believed we could do it and the way things are going, we still do.

"You always want to test yourself at the next level.

"It is every player's dream to play in the Premiership. It is the main league in Europe - in the world even."

That ambition is now within Young's grasp, but as a teenager he almost missed out on a professional career altogether.

He explained: "Ian Wright was my hero as a boy and I still watch his videos today. I am an Arsenal fan and I always followed them.

"From the age of four I did not stop kicking a ball around, it was all I wanted to do when I was growing up.

"But when I left school I missed out on a YTS with Watford. I was not the biggest player - and I am still not.

"I got another crack at it though and I thought I have got to use the things I have got - my brain and quick feet. I worked hard and it paid off - Watford offered me a professional contract."

That work ethic has stayed with Young and he is still striving to develop.

"Even now I am still trying to get better," Young said.

"I set myself targets every day and go into training looking to learn things. I have progressed over the last 12 months and hopefully I can keep on improving too."


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