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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 20, 2007

Young at heart of O'Neill's Villa plans

Martin O'Neill has claimed Ashley Young is 'capable of playing for England' as he waits to hear whether the Watford striker will complete a club record £9.65 million move to Aston Villa.

O'Neill is expected to find out this weekend whether 21-year-old Young, who has already rejected a move to West Ham, wants to take the next step in his development with the midlands club.

There is still a strong suggestion that Young is waiting to see whether Tottenham will make an improved bid before deciding on his future.

Villa entertain Watford in the Premiership on Saturday and any concrete moves are unlikely to happen until after the final whistle.

O'Neill said: 'I would not have made a bid if I didn't think Ashley could add something to the football club. Looking to the future, I believe he has got the potential to go on and do great things.

'I actually think selling the football club to Ashley wasn't particularly difficult although I wouldn't expect a very young player to know the history of the club inside out.

'You think if somebody will be of value over the next four or five years and you base your decision to go for someone on that.

'I think he is capable of playing for England because he has the ability, the natural ability.'

On signing Young, O'Neill added: 'I would be hopeful - but I would never be ultra-confident about anything until something is signed.

'But I will not be rushing anybody into making a quick decision. It will take a bit of time.

'In all honesty, I would prefer not to be having this conversation. I would prefer to be speaking about something I was more certain of.'

O'Neill views Young as a potential long-term capture but is also ready to bring in short-term buys to help Villa through the remainder of the campaign.

He said: 'You don't mind paying a bit more for someone you think has got a future but by the same token I am not sure I want to be in the market for players who will not be playing a part in the rebuilding of Villa in the next three or four years.

'But, if I was getting people in with a bit of experience on a short-term basis, I don't mind doing that as well.'

Meanwhile, defender Mark Delaney has undergone successful knee surgery in the United States after being sidelined for the first half of the campaign.

The 30-year-old has been operated on by renowned American surgeon Dr Richard Steadman who rescued the career of Villa centre-back Martin Laursen.