Lacklustre Young embodies England's stage fright

The 27-year-old winger was brought on in Podgorica as Roy Hodgson looked to change the game, but he contributed little as the Three Lions could only muster a point
By Husmukh Kerai

Ashley Young completed his move to Manchester United in 2011 as one of England's most promising talents, with everything in place for him to progress to the next level and become a key player for the Three Lions as well as the Red Devils.

Martin O'Neill once even compared him to Lionel Messi during his time at Villa Park.

On Tuesday, he came on for England in Podgorica as soon as Montenegro drew level. Roy Hodgson turned to Young to provide the spark the Three Lions so badly needed after being forced onto the back foot by the resurgent hosts.

But the spark never came, the 27-year-old never once looked like providing the ammunition needed for his forwards to get England back in front.

His performance was summed by his final contribution to the match, a last-gasp corner which failed to beat the first man. The worst kind of all set-pieces.

Young's attacking game simply doesn't offer enough for him to be continually effective in big matches. He has a talented right-foot, that cannot be debated, but his over-reliance on what is his only great weapon means he is relatively easy to defend against.

He might run riot against San Marino, scooping the man-of-the-match award with a goal and a couple of assists, but he won't get the same chances to saunter to the edge of the box and casually whip a shot at goal against teams who have anything about them defensively.

An opposition coach simply has to instruct his right-back to show Young on to his weaker left-foot. It's a simple defensive tactic which is used in virtually every game of football. The problem Young faces is that he has no answer for when it's deployed against him.

You could probably count on one hand the amount of times Young has actually driven towards the byline to clip in a left-footed cross from the right flank this season.

Apart from when using his pace, which he has plenty of, he lacks the inventiveness and trickery of his counterparts, the ability to beat a defender by doing something out of the blue. With Young, his play in the final third is too easily telegraphed.

His impact at Euro 2012 was next to non-existent when England came up against teams who were defensively organised. At international level, especially at major tournaments, football matches are chaotic enough for Young to be at his most effective.

The 27-year-old as the ability to put average opponents to the sword but doesn't quite have the nous needed to problem solve on the big occasion against top opposition.

Sir Alex Ferguson isn't the type to rely on a player who doesn't produce for him in the big games. Young, who has admittedly struggled with injuries, has fallen out of favour at Old Trafford, with Danny Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa often playing out of position before Young is considered.

The winger could join the likes of Antonio Valencia, Nani, Anderson and Chicharito on the list of players who Sir Alex Ferguson will listen to offers for this summer.

If he does leave Old Trafford, Young will also lose his status as an automatic pick in Roy Hodgson's England squads, a status he no longer warrants after his recent displays.

At 27 years old, Young can no longer hide behind inexperience. It is time for him to step up and once again he has shown that it may be beyond him.