ASHLEY Young could be as good as Wayne Rooney as England’s deep-lying striker, according to Stewart Downing.
Young looks set to start the European Championship playing off Danny Welbeck, with Rooney suspended for his country’s opening two games.
Rooney has long been considered England’s talisman but Young has threatened to wrest that mantle from his Manchester United team-mate in the last 18 months.
Young has now scored six times in his last 10 internationals since the end of 2010, with Rooney having found the net just twice in six games over the same period.
Downing and Young starred together for two years at Aston Villa, where the latter first found himself moved off the wing to a more central role.
Both players joined new clubs last summer and Liverpool winger Downing said: “He’s tricky and finds himself in good areas and can nick a goal. He can find a pass, score a goal and maybe now we have another player to play in that role as well as Rooney.”
He added: “You can see with the run of games he’s had and scoring a few goals that his confidence has grown. He’s a terrific player, a good lad and I personally like playing with him because we seem to be on the same wavelength. I think he’s come into his own a bit and has the confidence he can do well in this team.”
Downing, who is being tipped to start alongside Young in England’s Euro 2012 opener against France on Monday, revealed he himself preferred to play in a deep-lying role.
He said: “When I first went to Aston Villa, he was on the left, I was on the right and you saw his ability to get good crosses into the box.
“I prefer to play in the hole, if I’m honest, and at Aston Villa when he went into the hole and I went out wide, I think we linked up quite well. Me, him and Darren Bent.”
Before Bent arrived at Villa, Young and Downing played alongside James Milner, who has also been heavily tipped to start in midfield on Monday.
There was brief concern over the Manchester City midfielder after he sat out England’s visit to Auschwitz and the Oskar Schindler factory yesterday.
But the FA last night confirmed the 26-year-old was advised to stay off his feet in the afternoon after suffering blisters and were confident he would train today.
Apart from Jermain Defoe, who returned home on Thursday following the death of his father, Milner was the only member of the England squad not to visit either Auschwitz or Schindler’s factory.
He is also the only member of the squad to have played every minute of manager Roy Hodgson’s first two games.