Milner - I'll hold for England
James Milner has told Fabio Capello he is prepared to play in a holding midfield role for England.
Last Updated: 21/05/10 11:23am
James Milner has told Fabio Capello he would be prepared to play in a holding midfield role for England at the World Cup.
The Aston Villa midfielder looks certain to jet off to South Africa with the Three Lions after an excellent season which culminated in the 24-year-old being heralded as the PFA Young Player Of The Year.
Former Villa team-mate Gareth Barry normally occupies the defensive midfield role, but with an ankle injury leaving the Manchester City man's World Cup chances hanging in the balance, Capello is considering a plan B in the heart of his starting XI.
The likely candidates to fill the void include Michael Carrick, Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker but the versatile Milner has also put his name into the hat by insisting he is ready to answer the call should it come from the Italian.
"Could I fill the Barry role for England if he is not fit? That is down to the manager to decide," said Milner, who has successfully converted from a wide player into a central midfielder during the 2009-10 campaign.
"All I can concentrate on is doing as well as I can in training and in these two games (with Japan and Mexico).
"Forcing your way into the World Cup squad first of all, is all I am concentrating on and then everything else takes care of itself.
"But if I were picked there, it's another football match. You've played there for your club and it is no different playing for your country.
"Could a holding role come naturally? I will play anywhere I am asked to play and do it to the best of my ability. My attributes are probably more suited to going forward and creating things.
"But, wherever I am asked to play, I'll do it to the best of my ability and try and adapt to the role and learn the role as best as possible."
It is that willingness to adapt which has impressed Capello who even played Milner at left-back for a spell during the World Cup qualifier with Belarus at Wembley last autumn.
Milner has made massive strides this season as a player and it is no surprise Manchester City have launched a £20million bid to buy him which was instantly rejected by Villa.
Milner said: "I feel I have progressed this season I think you like to think you improve every season. That's the aim.
"It's been a bit of a different season with moving inside and I've enjoyed it immensely and hope I've improved as a player by moving in there and still learning the role.
"I played it a lot when I was younger but I am still learning it.
"I think you are still learning whether you are 24 or 31 especially when you are playing with good players, which I am lucky enough to be doing at club level and with country."