Young says England and Man United teammate Rashford a 'special talent'
Ashley Young finds "special talent'' Marcus Rashford's hunger as refreshing as it is exciting and believes the player's attitude is a breath of fresh air.
It is hard to fathom quite how much Manchester United's precocious forward has crammed into his career since making his first-team debut a mere 622 days ago.
Rashford has established himself as a regular for club and country, with the attacker showing no signs of slowing down thanks to ability that is matched by an equally impressive attitude.
"I saw him when he was coming up through the ranks at United,'' Young said of his United teammate. "He obviously got his debut straight away and kicked on from there.
"I always said all along, for me, he's a special talent. He was always going to go a long way.
"Even now he's got his feet on the ground and he wants to learn. He just wants to better himself each day.
"I think the manager is having to drag him off the training pitch every day because he is just wanting to better himself. It's refreshing to see a kid like that just wanting to get to the top.''
While many United teammates admit to being taken aback by Rashford's rise, Young was not as his name was mentioned as soon as he joined the club in 2011.
"For me, as a senior pro, you got the chance to watch the Under-18s and you could tell he was going to be a big talent,'' he said. "Speaking to him even at that young age, he was one of them who just wanted to learn and to be the best.
"I'm delighted for him because he wants to work and learn and he's doing fantastically well.''
The pair now have the chance to transfer club form to the international stage together after Young's long-awaited recall.
The 32-year-old last played for England in September 2013, but his form as a remodelled full-back and increased playing time impressed Gareth Southgate enough to be included for the friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
Earlier this year it appeared more likely that Young would wind down his career in China than push for a World Cup spot, but the wide man says an exit has not crossed his mind.
"A lot's been said about me playing for three different managers at the club,'' he said, using an inaccurate number of permanent United managers -- something he was corrected on, only to be coy when asked if he meant to omit one.
"Even the England manager said the other day that I have played for three managers there and they have always believed in me.
"They have always had that trust in me to play -- Champions League, Europa League, big derbies. I've always had their trust to play in those games.
"I think there did come a point last season where I wasn't in the squad, wasn't even making the 18. It was disappointing but I have never thought about leaving the club.
"I've always got that determination, to get back in the squad and get back playing.
"I've spoken to all three managers at times when there was difficult periods but I have got confidence in myself, confidence in my ability get back in the squad and get back into the team.''
Young came off the bench in a goalless draw in Ukraine in September 2013 in his last international appearance for England and Joe Hart, Kyle Walker and Gary Cahill are the only starters from that match still in the squad, so it is little wonder to hear the 32-year-old say "it's all changed."
"I'm enjoying football,'' Young said. "As a footballer you want to play week in, week out.
"I'd prefer it if I was playing further up the pitch, but I've been able to adapt and play as a left-back or a right-back and as a wing-back.
"I've been enjoying football, playing well. Every time I put on the shirt I feel like I've played well and that I deserve the call-up.''
Young believes his "football brain'' has helped his transition further back and his versatility has caught the eye of Southgate.
"The manager did say about versatility,'' said Young, who missed a penalty in the Euro 2012 quarterfinal exit to Italy -- his only major tournament experience.
"As a footballer nowadays you have to be able to adapt and play in different positions, different formations, different systems. It's just whether you can adapt to that.
"The manager is talking about a 3-4-3 or wing-backs or 3-5-2 and I feel like I can step into that role.
"I've shown I am deserving to be in the England squad but I don't just want a place in the squad, I want to be in the team.
"I'm one of those players who wants to play every game and the World Cup is a long way away -- but at the back of my mind I think every English player wants to go to the World Cup.''
Young watched the last World Cup on holiday in Dubai, but can underline his credentials for the next one in the friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
"It was disappointing not to be involved,'' he said. "When you have the chance to represent your country it's an honour.
"For me, always an honour to pull on an England shirt. That's why I will never retire until my legs tell me they can't run any more.
"We qualified in the right manner, two big friendlies coming up against two of the top teams in world football and you want to test yourself against the best.
"You have to go to tournaments to beat the best and I think this will give us a marker about how far and how well we can do.''
The edge has been taken off these friendlies somewhat by injuries, with Dele Alli among those to have withdrawn.
Young had a frank exchange with the Tottenham midfielder at Old Trafford recently, but it appears to be water under the bridge.
"Yes of course, it's would be nice to see him,'' he said, smiling.
"Things happen on football pitches. Once the game is finished, you don't need to talk afterwards. That's just how it is.''
Put to Young that Alli does not have a Premier League winners' medal -- something he appeared to remind the midfielder that day -- he said with a smile: "He hasn't yet, no.''
Alli has a reputation for pushing things to the limits and Young knows what it is like to be pigeonholed having been labelled a diver in some quarters.
"A lot of people talk about diving and what not, but it's just one of those things,'' he said. "If the referee gives a foul then it's a foul. That's just how I see it.
"It's just that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Anyone can say anything, but, no, I don't dive.''