France v England: Young vows to thrive in Rooney’s absence
Ashley Young vows to thrive under the pressure of leading England's attack for their opening Group D game against France
Ashley Young has vowed to thrive under the extra pressure of leading England’s attack in the absence of Wayne Rooney for their opening Euro 2012 game against France on Monday.
The 26-year-old is gearing up for his first international tournament after missing out on a place in Fabio Capello’s 23-man squad for the World Cup in South Africa two years ago.
Young, who joined Manchester United from Aston Villa last summer, was in impressive form for the Red Devils at the end of the Premier League season and scored his sixth England goal against Norway in their penultimate warm-up game.
The former Watford striker is set to start in the absence of Rooney, who is suspended for England’s first two games of the European championship after his red card against Montenegro last October.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot,” Young told Uefa.com. “It’s a lot of pressure to be put on me, but I enjoy the challenge.
“Wherever I’m called upon to play, I’m going to go out and give 110 per cent as I always do, especially when I put on an England shirt.
“It’s a proud moment for me.”
Young also heaped praise on England manager Roy Hodgson after the 64-year-old secured back-to-back wins in his first two games, plus successive clean sheets.
“I think if you look at the organisation of the team, we’re defending from the front, right the way through to the back,” added Young.
“I think [Hodgson] has set up many of the teams he’s worked for like that and it’s important for us to be able to do that too.
“If we play in the right manner and go out and give 100 per cent like we have done in the last two games, we’ll be able get the right result.”
France v England: Pre-match facts
• England came through their eight qualifying games – five wins and three draws – unbeaten. Their last competitive defeat was a 4-1 reverse against Germany in the 2010 World Cup round of 16 on 27 June 2010, their all-time heaviest loss at a major tournament.
• Sven-Goran Eriksson’s team came unstuck in the closing stages of their Euro 2004 opener; with England 1-0 up, David Beckham had a penalty saved by Fabien Barthez and they then conceded two Zinedine Zidane goals in added time.
• France have six players with previous European championship experience, all from 2008: Steve Mandanda, Malouda, Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri, Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery.
• Ashley Cole has gone a record 94 outfield appearances without an England goal. Gary Neville, a member of the coaching staff at Euro 2012, set the previous mark of 85.