Hornets Ashikodi reveals England ambitions
Moses Ashikodi today vowed to follow his friends Micah Richards and Theo Walcott into the England squad after scoring on his debut for Watford.
The 19-year-old forward played with Walcott and Richards for England at youth levels, but has so far failed to make the strides they have managed following a troubled past which saw him thrown out of Millwall three years ago after he was alleged to have threatened then-Lions striker Mark McCammon with a knife.
But Ashikodi, who netted the final goal in yesterday's 4-1 win over Stockport in the FA Cup third round after moving to Vicarage Road from Rangers, is convinced he will fulfil his potential at Watford.
'I am playing catch-up with [Micah and Theo],' Ashikodi said. 'The more goals I score, the quicker I will catch up with them.
'That is the aim. They are friends of mine, and I would like to play with them again - with England.
'I am very confident that I can catch up with my mates. I am ready.'
Ashikodi's goal yesterday - an 82nd-minute effort after Stockport goalkeeper James Spencer had made a mess of a clearance - was his first in senior football.
It was also the 19-year-old's first start in the professional game as he had previously been restricted to a handful of substitute appearances with Millwall, Gillingham and Rangers.
The alleged knife incident at Millwall has cast a cloud over Ashikodi's career, but the Nigerian-born forward insists he has matured considerably since.
'I have grown up a lot,' he admitted. 'I am more relaxed, and not as bad as I was before.
'Back then, I was a big fish in the sea. Maybe I am not as good as I thought I was.
'I have to dig in and work harder. The manager (Adrian Boothroyd) has shown a lot of faith in me, and I have to repay that.'
Boothroyd, meanwhile, dropped a strong hint that star forward Ashley Young was being sounded out about a possible transfer behind his manager's back.
Young is likely to leave the Hornets this month, with six clubs including Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton and Sheffield United all having bid for the £7million-rated 21-year-old.
'You have to presume other people are in Ashley's ear, because I am not with him for 24 hours a day,' conceded Boothroyd, who still hopes to sign striker Collins John from Fulham after having a £3.25m bid accepted.
'Has he told me other people have had a word with him? He has. Ashley has, on occasion, told me things that, perhaps, other players would not tell their managers.
'He has not mentioned any names, and I do not ask him the question.
'But if he comes to me and says he would like to go, we would have to get an awful lot of money for that to happen.'
Young was left on the bench at the start of yesterday's game, and did not come on until midway through the second half.
Stockport even took the lead through David Poole's 23rd-minute effort, but the Hornets prevailed thanks to two goals from veteran defender Malky Mackay and further strikes from Tommy Smith and Ashikodi.
County forward Michael Malcolm was taken off at half-time - but next week he will have a chance to earn a move to the Bundesliga when he joins Werder Bremen for a week's trial.
'I thought it was a wind-up,' admitted Malcolm. 'I will be a bit nervous, as I can't speak German, and some of their players won't understand my English.
'But people have not seen the last of me in a Stockport shirt. I will play against Boston next week.'