After seven years at Manchester United, Ashley Young can consider himself part of the furniture at Old Trafford. Signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011, the former Aston Villa and Watford player has shifted positions in recent years, shifting further back from a winger to a left back. The change has reinvigorated his club and international career, with Young a part of Gareth Southgate’s squad for this summer’s World Cup in Russia. He’s become a key part of Jose Mourinho’s plans at United, but beyond being a regular start for his team, Young’s experience has been playing a key role in offering support to the club’s youngsters, especially his countryman Marcus Rashford.
Both players are headed to Russia next month, and when asked how his younger colleague will fair in the tournament, Young had this to say: “I think he’s going to cope really well. I’ve said it from the time I saw him in the youth team – he’s got a massive future ahead of him. He’s a fantastic player and if he keeps going the way he is, he can set the world alight. It’s the World Cup coming up and that could be his stage to show everybody just how far he’s come from when he made his debut.”
“He’s definitely been fantastic for us at United and he’s definitely going to be a major player for us at the World Cup. I think if you look at the goals he has scored on how many different debuts, it just shows in itself he steps up in the big games and he can produce.”
This is exactly the sort of public encouragement that Rashford could benefit from, especially having been the target of open criticism by Jose Mourinho in the last few weeks. The Portuguese remarked to reporters that they “knew why” Rashford doesn’t start ahead of Lukaku after a disappointing performance in United’s 1-0 defeat to Brighton earlier in May.