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Manchester United’s Ashley Young out until October

Manchester United winger Ashley Young has been on the sidelines since August, due to a knee injury.

The England international hasn’t played for the Reds since he suffered a nasty gash on his thigh in his last game against Fulham as United won 3-2.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has outlined his caution with regard to the player’s return, stating that he would not be rushed back:

"We're taking our time. You can easily play with it and train but we're not going down that road, we want to make sure he's okay."

Young has been somewhat inconsistent in his performances for both club and country. There have never been any doubts about his ability – the 27-year-old shone at former club Aston Villa where he played 157 games in four years.

A natural winger, the forward has been utilized mostly on the left flank for England and at Manchester United since his £20million move in June of 2011.

He has since played 34 games for the Reds, scoring 8 goals but has been the subject of criticism from managers and commentators alike for his inconsistency and lack of confidence, which may also have been affected by his spells on the sidelines.

Young was amongst the targets of blame for United’s early exit from last season’s Champion’s League. Ex-United captain Roy Keane blasted him as part of a group of players lacking experience:

"You've had Jones, Smalling and Young coming in, everybody building them up, but they've got a lot to do. It's a reality check for some.”

He has, however, had some standout performances for his country. The most notable of his 26 appearances for England was in their Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland. Young managed to salvage a draw for his country, dragging them back level to 2-2 after they went two goals behind.

His own manager has criticized him earlier this year for being perhaps a little too light on his feet:

“I’ve had a word with Ashley,” said Ferguson.

“He understands where we come from and hopefully it makes a difference. The only fault is that Ashley went down too easy, but it was a penalty kick, absolutely no doubt about that. It was a clear goal-scoring opportunity.”

The player has been the subject of speculation regarding ‘diving’, formerly a cardinal sin amongst professional but, in recent years, now an accepted art of deception.

With Young expected to be out for a further two to three weeks, and the emergence of new talent at United in Tom Cleverley and summer signings of Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell, all competing for places in Ferguson’s midfield Young may have to fight for his place upon his return.

images: © Ian C, © vagueonthehow

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