Young tips Delfouneso for big things
Ashley Young believes Aston Villa's rookie striker Nathan Delfouneso has a great future ahead of him after seeing him net his first FA Cup goal in the third-round triumph over Blackburn Rovers. But Young insists Villa's 3-1 success has not handed them a psychological advantage ahead of the two-legged Carling Cup semi-final encounter between the two clubs.
Delfouneso marked his breakthrough into Martin O'Neill's first-team plans by scoring twice in the UEFA Cup last season. He has had few opportunities during the current campaign behind the established trio of Emile Heskey, John Carew and Gabriel Agbonlahor. But Delfouneso celebrated his first start of 2009-2010 with a clinical piece of finishing for the opening goal as Villa sealed a fourth-round spot for only the third time in the past nine seasons.
Young, who set up the opening two goals on his return from suspension, said: "Nathan is a very exciting prospect. If you look at this game and the way he came on, the way he started, he was fantastic. He has always had the potential from the first few glimpses we saw of him when he came on last season, especially in the UEFA Cup.
"For such a young boy to come on in an established competition like the UEFA Cup and do so well shows he has got a great future ahead of him. He has got an eye for a goal. He is a typical striker. He feeds off the wingers. He can hold the ball up, he can score, and he is definitely going to have a good future ahead of him."
Villa will be favourites to reach their first League Cup final since they lifted the trophy for the second time in three years in 1996, with the first leg of the semi-final at Ewood Park on Tuesday. But both sides are expected to be radically different from those selected on Saturday, with Villa making seven changes and Rovers nine from their last league games.
Young said: "The FA Cup game will have no bearing on Tuesday. It is a different game, a different competition. You always want to play in the big competitions and we are no different. We are in the competitions to go to Wembley and go and win it. That is what we will be looking to achieve."
Blackburn midfielder David Dunn helped his side win the League Cup when they overcame Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the 2002 final at the Millennium Stadium. And he knows the significance of the first-leg meeting with O'Neill's side.
Dunn, who had a spot-kick saved by Villa's stand-in goalkeeper Brad Guzan yesterday, said: "Winning the League Cup and gaining my England cap - funnily enough at Villa Park - are the highlights of my career. I think, for a club like Blackburn, to get to any major final is a big achievement for us. We've got a great chance. In two games' time, we could be at Wembley.
"Villa Park is a difficult place to come so we've got to make sure on Tuesday we get a good result, and we've already beaten them at home in the league this season," said Dunn. "Over two legs, it is going to be difficult, but I am sure their players will say the same. But we feel, if we play well, we've got a chance of getting through. They are a good team and we will have to be at our best."