Ready and willing
Thursday, 20 May, 2010
James Milner says he is ready to replace Gareth Barry on Monday.
James Milner says he is willing and ready to fill in for the injured Gareth Barry in central midfield if manager Fabio Capello gives him the nod against Mexico on Monday.
Milner has been transformed from a winger to a central midfielder by Aston Villa this season, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award in the process.
Now he hopes his versatility – he is also able to play right and left midfield and even at full-back - will help him clinch a place in England’s final 23 for the World Cup, not to mention a start against Mexico at Wembley.
Not bad for a player who only made his senior England debut against the Netherlands last August after previously winning a record 46 caps at Under-21 level.
The 24-year-old said: “Things have happened fast, from not playing a game for the Seniors and now being in the frame is great.
“That's down to a lot of hard work and also playing with a lot of good players at club level and working with the manager there.
“I was lucky enough to make my debut for England and you've got to make the most of the opportunities you get and hopefully I can make that one more step and go to the World Cup.
“There are seven players who will be left out and disappointed and a lot of very good players will be left at home.”
Manchester City star Barry has been the fulcrum of England’s midfield throughout the qualifying campaign, playing more games than any other player, but with Milner's former Villa Park team-mate currently injured, Capello must look at other options for Monday’s big match.
Milner, currently with the England squad in Austria for a pre-tournament training camp, added: “It is down to the manager but if he asks me to play there, I'll be prepared to play there.
“I've played that position most of the season. I'm happy there, there is no difference to playing there than with your club. So I'll be happy to play there.”
Certainly Milner has plenty of international experience to draw on - even though he has only six senior caps so far - because during a long career with the Under-21s he played in three European Championship Finals and that could be a big boost during the World Cup campaign.
"It will help a lot," he explained. "Everything is on a bigger scale, the World Cup is the biggest competition you can play in and every young kid dreams of playing in the World Cup for their country. But the Under-21s and the England youth set-up is geared to giving you that experience and to prepare you to make that last step up.”
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