'Ashley Young is Man Utd's James Milner' - Veteran 'leader' defended over form

The Red Devils suffered another painful defeat against Everton on Sunday, but will get the chance to right those wrongs at Old Trafford on Wednesday

Ashley Young remains a “leader” at Manchester United, says Paul Ince, with a veteran performer the Old Trafford equivalent of Liverpool’s James Milner and always likely to suffer the odd dip in form.

A 33-year-old long-serving member of the Red Devils’ squad has seen his value called into question of late.

He collected a red card during a Premier League defeat at Wolves, before then putting in a forgettable performance against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Ince can understand why criticism is being aimed at an easy target but believes a “scapegoat” is being sought during a testing run for United.

The former Red Devils midfielder told Paddy Power of a man who still has an important role to play under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Ashley Young, with the sending off against Wolves and his poor performance against Barcelona.

“But the fact is, you know what you’re getting with him.

“He’s a senior player, a great pro that has been at United for years, and it’s not fair to make him a scapegoat now.

“He’s the James Milner of Man United. But the fact is, as you get older it gets more difficult.

“He’s no spring chicken, so you’re going to have appearances where you’re not at your best, and that’s what we’re seeing with him now.

“But he’s still a leader, he talks and gives 100%. He was no worse than anyone else on Wednesday [against Barcelona], but fans like to have someone to blame.”

Young has been with United since 2011, taking in over 230 appearances while savouring Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, Europa League and Community Shield triumphs.

He has committed to another year at Old Trafford, with a 12-month contract extension signed back in February.

It does remain to be seen whether he will figure as prominently heading forward, with the Red Devils expected to be busy in the summer transfer market bolstering all areas of their squad – including at full-back.

Young and company are back in Premier League action this Saturday against West Ham at Old Trafford, before preparations begin for the second leg against Barca in the Champions League next Tuesday.