By Alex McLeish

8th Jul, 2021 | 4:00pm

McLeish cites Defoe with Aston Villa hero returning as 'coach' amid training HQ footage

Alex McLeish has suggested Ashley Young could play a “coach” role for Dean Smith at Aston Villa.

The former Villa boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, compared the 35-year-old to Jermain Defoe, who has recently been appointed player/coach at Rangers.

In a video posted by Villa on Monday (July 5th), Young was spotted in discussions with coaches John Terry and Craig Shakespeare, as well as sporting director Johan Lange, at the club’s training ground.

Manager Dean Smith then joined the group, giving Young a handshake before joining in the conversation.

Young returned to Villa on a free transfer after leaving Inter Milan at the end of his contract.

McLeish suggested the versatile winger would be more than just a player at Villa Park over the next 12 months.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

McLeish told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “For Ashley Young, see Jermain Defoe.

“They’re the kind of iconic players you really believe in that can help your, own boys.

“Ashley, when I went to Villa, he had just signed for Manchester United, months before I joined. To lose a player of that quality, for Aston Villa at that time, was a really sore one.

“You see how he’s progressed in his career and well done to him.

The fact Villa have got him back, whether he’s a consultant, coach or whatever, then he’s going to help all the kids that are there.”

Young played 190 times for Villa during his first spell at the club.

He made 59 appearances and won the Serie A title over a season-and-a-half at Inter Milan.

In other news, Aston Villa tipped to push rivals to “breaking point” as big-money offer readied.