Villa pair will thrive, says Carew

Norwegian striker predicts Agbonlahor and Young 'will get better and better'
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The Independent Football

John Carew believes his Aston Villa team-mates Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young will cause even more torment to Premier League defences after warning they will "get better and better each season".

Young carried off the PFA Young Player Of The Year award after a dazzling campaign on the left-wing, while Agbonlahor finished runner-up after scoring 13 goals during the current scoring and posing a constant menace with his searing pace.

Carew is confident the pair, who have both forced their way into Fabio Capello's England squad, are capable of moving up to an even higher level as they become more experienced. The Norway international striker said yesterday: "Gabby and Ashley are doing great and they are quite young still.

"They will keep on learning, and get better and better each season. Ashley had a fantastic season last year – his first full one at the club – and this one he has been even better.

"He's just been brilliant for the club, a fantastic signing. Gabby has been the same. He has every quality to become a big player. He just needs to continue working and he will get there. But the pair of them will only improve and they have great futures in the game."

Carew has also been impressed with the contribution of James Milner since his £12m club record switch from Newcastle in August. Milner took time to force his way into the side but has shown the form he demonstrated during a season on loan at Villa three years ago.

Carew said: "James Milner has been great for Villa as well. He has been one of the most important players for the club this season and he has a fantastic attitude and work rate."

The Villa manager, Martin O'Neill, is optimistic Agbonlahor will be fit for Monday's home game with Hull after missing the weekend draw against Bolton with a hamstring injury. But he will leave it until later in the week to assess the fitness of the right-back Luke Young, who was also ruled out of the trip to the Reebok Stadium with a foot problems.

The former Celtic manager said: "We would be hopeful of Gabby being fit. He did a wee bit of training on Monday and a bit more yesterday. With Luke, we will leave to Thursday or maybe Friday and we will monitor it from there."

Luke Young has hailed his fellow Villa full-back Nicky Shorey, who has regained his place in the starting line-up after several months apparently out of favour.

Young admits that he is unsure why England defender Shorey was excluded from the first XI for a four-month period – apart from Uefa Cup games – after the home Premier League game with Middlesbrough in early November. That meant Young switching flanks to fill the left-back role of the former Reading player, who was signed by O'Neill for £5m in August after Wilfred Bouma dislocated his ankle.

But Shorey earned a recall earlier this month after a poor performance by the stand-in right-back Nigel Reo-Coker against Liverpool at Anfield led to Young reverting to his more accustomed role. Young, currently battling to overcome a foot problem, said: "Nicky has been patient. You don't become a bad player overnight and you can see day in and day out that he is a great player. I'm glad he has got his chance now and I hope he stays in now until the end of the season.

"I was asked to play left-back for a good number of games in a row when we have got an England international [Shorey] out of the side. I am not sure the reasons why and the manager makes the decisions and you respect those. All I know is Nicky Shorey is a great left-back and I am sure a lot of teams would want him."

Young, one of Villa's most consistent players this season after moving from Middlesbrough during the summer, is hoping to be back in contention for the Hull match.