ASHLEY YOUNG learned enough about Wayne Rooney during their six years together at Manchester United to know exactly the threat he will pose when he returns to Old Trafford today.
Young believes his former skipper still poses an acute danger to the almost perfect start to the campaign made by Jose Mourinho’s team.
“Of course, he will be a danger,” says Young. “A lot has been said about Wayne. He doesn’t have legendary status for no reason.
“He has more than 100 England caps and is their highest goalscorer. He also holds the record for goals here. That speaks for itself.
“If you are the record scorer for both club and country, I cannot see any debate.
“It will be strange to face him because, obviously, he was here a long time and was a great servant to the club.
“But in football you do come up against players you played with for a long while. As long as we get the three points, that’s all that matters.”
In midweek Young made his competitive return from a serious groin injury which caused him to miss the tail end of last season and wore the armband when Paul Pogba went off injured against FC Basel.
At 32, he’s now one of United’s senior players and he’s aware of his responsibility to pass on the club’s traditional winning mentality to the younger and newer recruits.
“It is always nice to wear the armband,” he says. “Senior status comes when players leave. It’s one of those things. I just feel older!
“You want to help the youngsters, but it’s important that we have 11 leaders on the pitch.
“It’s not just the captain. We are all talking and pulling in the right direction. We have leaders from the goalkeeper through to the front men.
“Just look at the start of the season. It has been incredible.
“Everyone has the winning mentality that comes with a club like United and last Tuesday we showed why we should be back in the Champions League.”
Winger Young, who has just entered the last year of his contract, deputised at right-back against Basel, emphasising the sort of versatility Mourinho sees as a vital asset to his squad.
Young has survived three managerial changes since he arrived in 2011 but has put all thoughts of his future on the back burner.
“I just concentrate on United and giving it 100%,” he says. “If I am told anything otherwise then I will sit down and speak about it.
“I focus on what I do on the pitch and what the manager says.
“He has faith and trust in me and it is up to me to prove him right. I think I showed why he trusts me against Basel.
“I’d been out a long while and my legs started to hurt near the end.
“But it was nice to get 90 minutes under my belt and now I can look forward to the next few games. I think my body recovers quicker than most people’s.
“I knew I would be back sooner than what was being said and I feel fine. I’m delighted to be back out there.
“I just enjoy playing, wherever I’m picked. I prefer to play as a winger, but when I am called on to play as a right or left-back then I must show I have a footballer’s brain to play in those areas.
“I might get caught out sometimes, I might not. You have to learn it but I think I’ve done well.”
Young led United to a convincing 3-0 win on their return to the Champions League and he stresses the importance of making a good start to the group stage.
“It was nice to put in a good performance but the main thing was to get the three points in our first Champions League game at home,” he says.