Belfast Telegraph

McLeish hails Albrighton

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish admits winger Marc Albrighton has "climbed a mountain" to recapture last season's form after he scored the 20,000th goal in the Barclays Premier League.

Albrighton achieved the milestone during Wednesday night's 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal. The academy product was outstanding during his first full season of top-flight football and was voted the club's young player of the year. But this season the 22-year-old has struggled to regain those heights and found himself on the bench for the majority of the time.

Albrighton finally earned a recall at the start of December and capped his fourth successive start with the 20,000th goal. McLeish said: "Marc has climbed a mountain since the start of the season. He was doubting himself but the kid cares."

He added: "He is conscientious, I told him the only thing you can keep doing is working hard. I told him 'You will get your chance and opportunity' and sometimes it changes just like that.

"He has excelled over the last few weeks and his goal against Arsenal was a classic case of never giving up and chasing lost causes.

"It's never over until the ball is out of play. Marc chased it down, took the gamble, got in there and finished with great aplomb."

Villa are donating the £20,000 on offer from Barclays for the 20,000th goal to their official charity partners, the Acorns Children's Hospice.

Albrighton said: "We were disappointed not to get something out of the Arsenal game but the honour and the record I picked up for the goal is fantastic.

"It is something myself and the family will look back on and the money is going to a great cause.

"The Villa players and officials paid a visit (to Acorns) earlier in the week and everyone does a great job to try and make the children happy."

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