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By ESPN Staff

Albrighton ready for Villa challenge

Aston Villa's Marc Albrighton is hoping the lessons he has learnt from departed wingers Ashley Young and Stewart Downing will help him to step up and fill their boots this season.

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The pair left the club for a total of £35 million this summer, and both manager Alex McLeish and star striker Darren Bent have tipped Albrighton to shine in their absence.

"It's always nice to hear that from your manager,'' Albrighton said. "They are big boots to fill, but for me it's an opportunity. "I'll go out there and do my best and hopefully something will come of it.''

The 21-year-old is now hoping to thrive without the players who have been instrumental in his development, even if he will miss their help and advice.

"That's something that I haven't got this year which I think I'm going to miss,'' Albrighton said. "They are two of the best wingers in England at the moment so to learn from players like that for the last two or three years is great for me.

"I don't have them this year, but hopefully they've given me enough lessons to show my own ability and go out there and perform.''

Albrighton, who was speaking at the launch of Aston Villa's new home shirt, sponsored by Genting Casinos, believes he needs regular first-team football to improve his game further.

He said; "Playing in Premier League games is the only way you're going to be able to test yourself, and you're testing yourself against the best there. To play every week would be great for me if I can manage that.''

Despite the loss of key players this summer, Albrighton believes Villa should forget about a disappointing 2010-11 season and aim for a top-six finish.

"I think we've got to say that our target's Europe,'' he said. "I don't know what happened last year, we should have been up there, but we conceded sloppy goals that have cost us victories and a lot of points in the end.

"This year we've got to jump back on it and finish where we should be. Aston Villa are a European club.''


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