New Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has lauded the impact of veteran wide man Ashley Young.
The Stevenage-born ace played at Villa Park between 2007 and 2011, making 190 appearances in all competitions. He was then snapped up by Man Utd and went on to win a number of trophies, including the Premier League title in 2012-13.
Young then had a successful 18-month spell with Inter, where he won the Serie A crown, but is now back in the Premier League with Aston Villa.
The 36-year-old made his second debut in August, against another one of his former clubs, Watford.
He registered an assist on Saturday as the Villans beat Brighton 2-0, getting Gerrard’s reign as manager off to a winning start in the process.
On the star, Gerrard revealed that he has a coach-like impact at the team’s Bodymoor Heath training ground.
“I know Ashley extremely well and he’s been absolutely outstanding since we walked through the door. Not just on the training pitch but his leadership and standard-setting,” the Liverpool legend said.
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“We see players like him as an outer-layer of the staff, if you like, who really help us when we need to lean on him.
“He was ready and the big thing about Ash is he can play right-back, left-back, he can play as an eight, a 10 or wide. That’s what good players allow you to do as a manager, allow you to play in different ways.”
The recent victory could be an important stepping stone as Villa look to move up the table. They are currently 15th, just four points above the relegation zone.
“We need to go and back it up now,” Gerrard added. “It’s only three points, it’s only a start. There are areas we can improve and grow. More weeks on the training pitch in the weeks and months will make us better and make us stronger.”
Villa eyeing up ‘crucial’ Rangers man
Meanwhile, Villa are reportedly monitoring Rangers left-back Borna Barisic ahead of an £8m move.
The Express, citing the Mirror, write that Gerrard wants to improve his defence by adding the Croatian to his ranks. Such a deal would see Barisic rival Matt Targett for a starting spot.
The 29-year-old made 30 league appearances last season as Rangers won the Scottish title and went unbeaten.
He is not the only Rangers star to be linked, as Finland international Glen Kamara is also a target.