O'Leary eyes Milner talks
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
David O'Leary says Aston Villa will talk to Newcastle about James Milner on Saturday.David O'Leary has revealed that Aston Villa will seek to begin negotiations over James Milner's future when Newcastle visit the Midlands on Saturday.
The young winger is ineligible to appear against The Magpies after moving on loan from St James' Park in the summer, but Villa will take the opportunity to enter into talks regarding a permanent deal for the 20-year-old.
Milner has benefited enormously from regular first team football under O'Leary this season, although the Irishman has his concerns that Villa's financial constraints may hamper their chances of extending the youngster's stay.
"James Milner cost Newcastle £5 million plus add-ons when they signed him from Leeds and that sort of money takes us out of the equation," said O'Leary.
"He is not spectacular but plays at a high level of consistency and is a very functional player.
"Newcastle must have thought they could not go wrong allowing him to join Villa on loan as he could only improve with us.
"Villa did a great bit of business when he joined us. Nobby Solano came for £1.5 million and they gave us back that money when he returned to Newcastle and we took Milner on loan for a year without any fee being paid.
"No doubt Doug Ellis will be speaking to Freddy Shepherd at the game tomorrow."
Meanwhile, O'Leary insists he has no qualms about handing a first Premiership start to young midfielder Craig Gardner when the managerless Magpies come to Villa Park at the weekend.
The 19-year-old was handed a new contract earlier this week and O'Leary says he is keen to see how the prospect fares against Newcastle with Gavin McCann suspended.
"Craig will start along with Steven Davis and will form one of the youngest central midfields ever seen in The Premiership," O'Leary revealed.
"They go up against two big names, Scott Parker and Emre, and whoever wins control of the midfield will win the game.
"I've no other alternative but to play Gardner as Gavin is suspended and it is a massive test for him.
"Personally, I hope the boy does well. You will not get anyone who wants to be a top footballer more than him. His attitude and willingness to learn is unbelievable.
"It would give me the utmost pleasure if the boy plays well and I hope the crowd get behind him.
"He has shown his potential as a strong midfield player with two good feet but The Premiership is a different grade entirely and we will have to see how he performs against world-class players."