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Gerrard lavishes praise on unsung Aston Villa hero after Brighton heroics

Steven Gerrard was quick to praise the impact of substitute Ashley Young after the versatile winger helped to get the party well and truly started at Villa Park.

Young, 36, was introduced for Emi Buendia with a little over 15 minutes remaining and, just 10 minutes after coming on, drove forwards before teeing up Ollie Watkins to score.

Tyrone Mings added another late on to wrap up the perfect start to Gerrard’s tenure here at Villa, with the boss quick to pick out Young’s involvement both before and during the 2-0 win over Brighton.

“I know Ashley extremely well and he’s been absolutely outstanding since we walked through the door,” he said. “Not just on the training pitch but his leadership and standard-setting.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard following the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham.

“We see players like him as an outer-layer of the staff, if you like, who really help us when we need to lean on him.

“He was ready today and the big thing about Ash is he can play right-back, left-back, he can play as an eight, a 10 or wide. That’s what good players allow you to do as a manager, allow you to play in different ways.”

On his first win as a Premier League manager, the 41-year-old added: “It was a big week and a big game, especially for the players off the back of losing five.

“It was a mixture of excitement and relief and pride really because I couldn’t be more proud of the players because in just a week some players were only around for a couple of days.

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“Everything we’ve asked to do in the main, they’ve followed instructions and delivered a really good performance in the end.”

Gerrard ordered his players over to the Holte End afterwards as he himself took in the jubilant scenes.

Gerrard added: “I also wanted to show my appreciation to the supporters. I thought they were fantastic today, of course a little bit tense at times which is understandable.

“I want to make sure all the players went over. It was a fantastic sight at the end of the game, a lot of relief and a lot of emotion. They certainly helped us today.”

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