Gary Cahill hails improvement of Ashley Young

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The Independent Football

Gary Cahill believes his one-time Aston Villa team-mate Ashley Young "can play on any stage" after fully realising his potential at international level during the past month.

Central defender Cahill recognised Young's ability at England Under-21 level and then with Villa before he made the switch to Bolton three years ago.

But it is only now that Young looks completely at home for his country with his performances against Denmark, Wales and latterly Ghana at Wembley on Tuesday night.

Cahill said: "You can see how much Ashley has developed even in the time from when I knew him at Villa.

"He looks at home on this stage now but, when you've got that ability, you can play on any stage.

"He gets into little pockets of space and his awareness is outstanding.

"I thought he was brilliant against Wales and he had another good game against Ghana. His general awareness is good and he is such a threat."

Cahill, who made his full England debut on Tuesday, added: "I sensed from Ashley's early days that he was going to be a special player.

"I saw him in the Under-21s and he was fantastic in that.

"You could see then as a talent he was only going to get better, and that is what he has done."

Cahill also impressed in winning his third cap in the absence of skipper John Terry and Michael Dawson who were both allowed to return to their clubs to prepare for Champions League action.

He said: "I'd like to think after this performance, I've proved that I can play at this level.

"It is important for me to take my chances when given and it was good to get the first 90 minutes for my country under my belt.

"There is a lot of competition for my position and people more experienced than myself are in there.

"I'll be patient and just look to take my chance when given."

In the more immediate future, Cahill is hoping to return to Wembley twice with Bolton before the end of the campaign.

He said: "It would be nice if it becomes like a second home.

"It would be nice to come back twice before the season finishes - in the FA Cup semi-final (against Stoke) and the final."