Milner denies targeting claims
James Milner has quashed suggestions Croatian players have been deliberately targeted for rough treatment.
Last Updated: 02/09/09 9:58am
Aston Villa winger James Milner has quashed suggestions Croatian players have been deliberately targeted for rough-house treatment in the Premier League.
Croatia will be without playmaker Luka Modric for their upcoming World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley after he fractured his fibula in a tackle with Birmingham's Lee Bowyer at the weekend.
Croatian FA president Vlatko Markovic has accused players of targeting Croatia's stars ahead of the crucial qualifier in the wake of Eduardo's long-term injury that ruled him out of Euro 2008.
Milner, who impressed on his England debut against Holland last month, insists players do not put a lot of thought into who they are tackling - only that they are trying to win the ball.
"Obviously it is nonsense," said Milner. "What has happened with Modric is unfortunate. He is a top player and Spurs will miss him massively.
"You don't look at who you are tackling or anything like that when you are on the field. You don't think 'oh it's him, I will go in hard'. You are just trying to win the ball.
"But you want to play in the best competitions in the world against the best players. It helps you if the best players aren't there but also you want to challenge them.
"That is what being a professional in any sport is all about."
Milner has played just 20 minutes so far for his country, but the former Newcastle and Leeds man now wants to cement his place in Fabio Capello's squad ahead of next summer's World Cup finals.
The 23-year-old knows there is plenty of hard work ahead of him, however, he is ready to put in the graft required to make sure he has a seat on the plane to South Africa next summer.
"When you are growing up as a kid, kicking a ball against the garage at nine or 10 you are dreaming of scoring for England in a World Cup final," he said.
"You work so hard every day to get to the top but hopefully this is just the start of a chapter. I have not reached my goal. I have played for 20 minutes and I have got one cap.
"That is great. Now I have to prove I should be in every squad and that I should be in the team. You don't stop. You strive for more."