Albrighton aims for progress

Young winger ready to take on greater responsibility next term

Albrighton: Grateful to be given chance to impress by MacDonald

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Marc Albrighton hopes to build on a fine first season as an Aston Villa regular when he returns for pre-season.

The 21-year-old winger was handed his first Premier League start last term and went on to score five goals in 29 league appearances to help Villa finish ninth.

That looked an impossible target when Villa were third-bottom in early January and they were as low as 16th with just seven games left.

But with Ashley Young having left for Manchester United this summer, Albrighton aims to have an even bigger impact next term under new boss Alex McLeish.

"It's been a bit strange for me because I've gone from strength to strength and I've enjoyed every minute of it," he told the Sunday Mercury.

"I felt like throughout the season I got better, which was great.

Bad times

"There have been some bad times because collectively we didn't have the best of seasons, and there were some disappointing results and games that we should have won, so on that note, it has not been great.

"There was a stage when we realised it was going to be a poor season and the aim was to see it out, build for next season and hope it will be better," Albrighton added.

"But on a personal level it's been brilliant and I hope to keep going and pushing on."

Albrighton was also rewarded with an England Under-21 call-up for this summer's European Championship.

Yet it could have been so different had Martin O'Neill remained as manager.

Kevin MacDonald became caretaker boss following O'Neill's departure and Albrighton didn't look back after being named in the starting line-up for the opening-day win over West Ham.

Great feeling

"Playing so much is a great feeling and I have to thank Kev for giving me my chance," he said.

"Who knows what would have happened if Martin O'Neill hadn't left before the season started. I might not have played at all.

"I still don't know my best position because I swap wings a lot. It's quite handy if you can play on the left and cut inside and have a shot on your stronger foot. But I enjoy playing whether it's on the right or the left.

"I just have to focus on improving and playing well. Next season will be big for the club and for me."