Atkinson told the Sunday Mirror: “Milner has had an outstanding season for Villa and proved himself a big player for the club. I would definitely have him in the England starting XI.
“His versatility makes him an even more valuable player, but although he’s been operating in a central role I’m sure he could solve the left-side problem for Fabio Capello.
“He’s a terrific team player, he would work that flank, cut in on his right and cross with either foot. He can provide the service for Rooney and our other striker.
“We know Rooney can play on his own but I prefer two strikers. I would go with Peter Crouch up top, and give Rooney licence to go where he likes. Jermain Defoe could come on when the game gets stretched. Rooney has been on fire for his club but so has Milner.
“They’ve been two of the best English players all season and can play major roles for England this summer.”