Aston Villa winger Ashley Young has set himself the target of getting in England's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad after giving Fabio Capello a reminder of his talent over the weekend.
Capello watched Young score the opener at Bolton on Saturday, then was a guest of the Professional Footballers' Association the following day when the 23-year-old picked up the award for Young Player of the Year. The Stevenage-born midfielder has made four substitute appearances for his country and is determined to play a part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa after being left out of the last two squads.
"Of course, the World Cup is the aim for a lot of players," he said. "I always want to do well for my country and fingers crossed I'll be able to get back into the England squad and add to my caps."
Young is disappointed that Villa's season has tailed off after being in the hunt for a UEFA Champions League place. He insists Martin O'Neill's men, who are 10 points behind Arsenal, will fight until it is impossible to finish fourth in the Barclays Premier League.
Villa have not been helped by starting their season with Intertoto Cup matches in July. "I'm a bit tired but there's four games to go and we'll fight to the end," Young said. "We've got to finish strong this season and we don't count ourselves out of anything yet. As long as it is possible, we'll be chasing that fourth spot.
"With the amount of time we spent in fourth it was disappointing to have a blip which every team goes through. Ours coming at the end of the season is not the best times to have it."
The World Cup is the aim for a lot of players. I always want
to do well for my country and fingers crossed I'll be able to get back
into the England squad.
Young thanked Villa boss O'Neill for helping him progress this season. "I have to be thankful to him for bringing me to the club," Young said. "My game has come on leaps and bounds since I came to the club. He has got me in the England team and has always been there to help me.
"The award just shows the season we've had. It's me that picked up the award but it is a massive achievement for the club and my team-mates who have helped me along the way."
Meanwhile, O'Neill is already eyeing up players to strengthen Villa's bid for honours next season after admitting he expects Manchester City and Tottenham to be major rivals.
He said: "I have been checking out players up and down the country - any country. We had about 15 games covered at the weekend all over the place. We are looking at players to try and improve the team. That is the important thing.
"If we are going to keep going in the way we are doing, then trying to improve the side means trying to compete. It will not be easy next season. Manchester City will be very strong. They have got the wherewithal and the financial clout to do something about it.
"Tottenham Hotspur spent big in January just to get out of trouble so you can imagine, with the hope and expectation with Harry Redknapp coming there, that they will also have the wherewithal. I really think this summer will be very important indeed and also very difficult.
"I will be speaking with Randy (Lerner). If it is not this week, then it will be the week after. We will get a chance the next time he is over (from America)."