Ashley Young must console himself with a ringing endorsement from his Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal after again being overlooked for England duty.
Young has enjoyed his best form for several seasons following the Dutch manager’s arrival at Old Trafford last year.
The former Watford and Aston Villa star, nominally a wide forward, has found himself employed as a left-back at times under the ex-Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.
On Wednesday he was pressed into service on the right side of defence when Antonio Valencia was forced off at half-time in the 2-1 Champions League win at home to Wolfsburg.
Such versatility and reliability has not been enough to convince England manager Roy Hodgson to select the 30-year-old for the Euro 2016 qualifiers at home to Estonia on October 9 and away to Lithuania three days later.
While the wait goes on to add to his 30 international caps, Young at least knows he is valued at club level, having signed a new three-year deal in August.
“Ashley Young is very important,” Van Gaal said.
“He’s a team player in the first place and not many players are actually team players. He is always thinking of the team and he can play a lot of positions.
“For a manager it’s fantastic that he is willing to do that. On Wednesday he came in a right full-back. He hasn’t played there so much, but our second goal started with him. It was very important that he played there in the second half and I’m very happy with him.”
While Young may have missed out on this England squad, his team-mate Chris Smalling is very much part of the national team set-up.
The 25-year-old centre-back played the full 90 minutes in England’s 2-0 win at home to Switzerland on September 8 and is a strong candidate to start next year’s tournament in France alongside Gary Cahill or Phil Jagielka.
Van Gaal on Wednesday refused to take all the credit for Smalling’s recent improvement and strong start to the season, as the former Maidstone United and Fulham man finally begins to look at home in the United backline.
“When he does things, he does it all by himself,” Van Gaal said.
“I help him with advice, demands and training sessions and by showing images to improve him. But he has to be open and he has to perform on the pitch. He does everything himself. The greatest compliment you have to make is to Chris and not to me.”
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