Ashley Young 'felt old' on England return; hopes experience earns World Cup spot
Ashley Young has told ESPN FC that his tournament experience could be crucial if he is named in England's World Cup squad, despite admitting he felt "old" when Gareth Southgate ended his four-year international exile last November.
The Manchester United defender is expected to be named in Southgate's squad on Thursday for the forthcoming friendlies against Netherlands and Italy after establishing himself as Jose Mourinho's first-choice left-back at Old Trafford this season.
Young, 32, travelled to Euro 2012 with Roy Hodgson's England squad and played in all four games before the team were eliminated by Italy in a quarterfinal penalty shootout, but his international career appeared to be over until Southgate handed him his 31st cap -- and first since September 2013 -- in the friendly against Brazil last November.
But after regaining his place in the England set-up, Young insists his age and experience can be an important addition to the squad if he makes the plane to Russia.
"When you go to play tournament football, the experience of playing at tournaments, and in big competitions with your club, is important," Young told ESPN FC, speaking prior to United's Champions League exit against Sevilla on Tuesday. "It's down to the manager to pick the squad and the squad has done fantastically well to qualify, but it's a really young squad and I found that out when I went there [for the November friendlies].
"I felt old as soon as I walked through the door!
"But as soon as you're on the training pitch, you want to do well and I think I did that in the short space of time we were together.
"We will just have to see what happens the next time the squad meets up."
Despite his lengthy spell in the international wilderness, which coincided with uncertainty over his future at United, Young claims he never gave up hope of a return to the England team.
"When you have been out for so long, you start wondering whether it can happen again," he said. "But I never gave up that hope and when I was called up, I said I wasn't looking to retire and would always make myself available.
"The manager said that if you were playing well and English, you would get the chance to be in the squad and I have done that.
"Hopefully, there is another chance to be in the squad and I hope I have done enough to be involved in that one.
"As long as I'm playing well and doing the right things at United, it's all a bonus for me."
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_