Ex-Villa boss Atkinson: Milner must be England starter

Former Manchester United and Aston Villa boss Ron Atkinson says James Milner must be a starter for England at this year's World Cup.

Former Manchester United and Aston Villa boss Ron Atkinson says James Milner must be a starter for England at this year's World Cup.

Wayne Rooney is acknowledged as the main man for Manchester United and England, and Atkinson backs Milner to harness his Villa form and boost the national cause in South Africa.

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.”

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