Ashley Young 'the James Milner of Man United' says ex-Liverpool and United midfielder Paul Ince

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Ashley Young has been criticised for recent performances.

Former Liverpool and Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince has defended Ashley Young after a poor run of form from the veteran full-back.

Young is currently United’s captain with club captain Antonio Valencia enduring a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to an injury, but has been criticised for recent performances which saw him get sent off during a 2-1 loss against Wolves and then struggle to make an impact in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final.

But Ince compared Young to Liverpool’s James Milner, citing the influence the 33-year-old brings as a senior figure at the club.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Ashley Young, with the sending off against Wolves and his poor performance against Barcelona,” Ince said.

“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 won every major trophy at United barring the Champions League since joining in 2011, a spell that has seen him make over 230 appearances for the club.

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Man United future uncertainty may have impacted Ander Herrera's fitness

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not sure where Ander Herrera‘s future lies and suggested the uncertainty may have impacted the Manchester United midfielder’s fitness.

Press Association Sport understands that the 29-year-old was intending to stay at Old Trafford and sign a contract extension, only for a lack of communication to see the Spaniard plan to leave at the end of his deal.

Herrera is believed to have committed to Paris Saint-Germain over another option, although Solskjaer’s appointment brought up a renewed push from United to agree terms to keep him beyond the summer.

“He’s been working really hard to get fit from his injury that he sustained against Liverpool,” the Red Devils boss said.

“Then he came back, and he got a different one here in training because he’s been really putting a lot of work in.

“And, unfortunately, that’s come at a time where, as you say, there are contract talks but that’s ongoing, so I can’t really comment too much on how far they have come down the line and what he’s deciding.

“Well, you have to ask him (if there is any chance of him staying). I don’t know how they’ve been, the last few talks, but we’ve let him focus on his fitness as well.

“He loves to play and he’s not very happy when he can’t help his team-mates and he’s always giving his all – it doesn’t matter if he’s got five years left of his contract or five weeks.”

Herrera is ruled out of Saturday’s Premier League clash against West Ham with a muscle complaint sustained shortly after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Solskjaer, rather surprisingly, suggested that those injury issues could have been contributed to by the uncertainly over his future.

“Maybe the future might have been worrying him and maybe that’s part of the reason that he’s injured,” the United boss said. “Who knows?

“He doesn’t know because he got a different injury in training. Hopefully he can be available for around about Chelsea (April 28), City (April 24) but I’m not sure because he got another muscle injury.”

Herrera is one of a number of absentees for this weekend’s match against the Hammers, with Nemanja Matic likely to be laid low again by illness.

Luke Shaw and Ashley Young are suspended but Matteo Darmian is available and Marcos Rojo could well come in at left-back for his first start under Solskjaer.

Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia also look set to miss out once again, so too forward Alexis Sanchez as he returns from an ankle injury.

“He is training with us,” Solskjaer said of the Chile forward. “He’s trained twice. He’ll train today.

“I’m not sure if he’s going to be available. He’s injury free but I am not sure if he’s 100 per cent for tomorrow, maybe more likely for the Barcelona game (next Tuesday), so let’s see.”

Solskjaer will have half an eye on Tuesday’s trip to the Camp Nou when selecting his side on Saturday, although he is well aware of the need to win.

Already three points off the top four heading into the weekend, United have lost four of their last five matches in all competitions.

“You’re never happy when you don’t win games, but it’s been a period now where we’ve played some good teams,” Solskjaer said.

“We had some good performances, but we haven’t had the quality in front of goal and belief maybe in front of goal that we should have because against Wolverhampton and Arsenal, the two league games, two of the last three, we should have won with the amount of chances.

“So, we’ve been practising. As a striker I know how important that little belief is and trust in yourself, so we’ve been putting balls in goals.”

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer bringing back Man United's DNA, says Jesper Blomqvist

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Jesper Blomqvist believes fellow treble winner Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is helping to bring back Manchester United‘s DNA.

While United are currently on a run of four defeats in five matches in all competitions, the overall upturn in fortunes under the Norwegian fan favourite remains striking.

Solskjaer was rewarded with the permanent managerial post last month having proven a breath of fresh air since Jose Mourinho’s sacking, with fans, staff and some current players comparing the feeling around the camp to that during Sir Alex Ferguson’s successful era.

Blomqvist did not imagine his fellow Scandinavian would move into management when sharing a dressing room 20 years ago, but the ex-United winger can see his former team-mate fostering the kind of atmosphere seen under Ferguson.

“I see myself more as a supporter now, a fan,” the former Sweden international told Press Association Sport.

“But it is coming back more to the DNA of United, how it was for almost 25 years. I mean, this is how I look at it.

Jesper Blomqvist started the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern.

Jesper Blomqvist started the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern.

“But you can win games, you can lose games, but as long as you try and really go for it and want to win the game and you show that on pitch, then you can lose a game.

“You can, of course, feel sorry that you lost but you are happy with the way you try to win it. That feeling for me is back.

“We’re going to lose more games, of course, during this season, but as long as you really try to win them, and then in the way try to attack.

“And also the other thing is about putting the faith in the youth again and really making them believe that it’s possible to become a regular Man United player.”

Solskjaer is not only giving young players an opportunity at United but helping more experienced options to improve, such as centre-back Victor Lindelof.

While there had already been shoots of recovery after a difficult first season, the Sweden international has kicked on under Solskjaer to the point where he is one of the first names on the team sheet.

“I made an interview when he signed and I said you have to give him a little bit of time,” Blomqvist said of compatriot Lindelof.

“But he has especially what I think is the mental strength to really become a great player. And that is the most important thing.

“Then he also has other attributes that I think will fit at United for a central defender: he is very confident with the ball and he is very fast as well, and strong one-against-one.

“I think he’s shown all that now and the more he plays now, the stronger and better he will be, and more confident he will get.

Blomqvist has praised fellow Swede Lindelof.

Blomqvist has praised fellow Swede Lindelof.

“The way he has been playing and improving this season has been fantastic and I’ve been really proud as a Swede to see him play for United.

“I think he has been absolutely brilliant.”

Blomqvist was speaking ahead of the Treble Reunion on May 26 at Old Trafford, where he will play for Manchester United Legends against Bayern Munich Legends.

Ferguson will be back in the dugout 20 years on from the last-gasp Champions League final win, with the match raising money for the Manchester United Foundation and its work with young people across Greater Manchester.

*Tickets for the Treble Reunion game are on sale now from £19.99 for adults and just £10 for under 16s. Hospitality packages are available from £99. For more information visit: www.manutd.com/treblereunion

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