Venables likens Villa star Milner to England hero Ball

Terry Venables has likened Aston Villa midfielder James Milner to Everton and England legend Alan Ball.

Terry Venables has likened Aston Villa midfielder James Milner to Everton and England legend Alan Ball.

Former England and Tottenham boss Venables thinks Milner has a similar game to the former Everton and England maestro and is powering his way into Capello's World Cup plans - just as Ball did with Sir Alf Ramsey in 1966.

He said: "There is a striking resemblance in the way James is staking a late claim to be in the squad for this summer's finals in South Africa.

"It reminds me so much of how Bally played his way into Sir Alf Ramsey's plans in 1966. It may seem hard to believe now, but the 21-year-old, flame-haired pocket rocket from Blackpool did not win his first cap until 13 months before the World Cup.

"Southampton's Terry Paine and Manchester United's John Connelly were expected to lead our challenge on the right side of midfield.

"But Sir Alf gave Ball his first full international cap in a friendly against Yugoslavia in Belgrade in 1965 - and the rest, as they say, is history.

"Ball went on to become the youngest and one of the most unlikely heroes on that fantastic day. Could history be about to repeat itself with James?

"Like Ball, Milner is an industrious midfielder in his early 20s. Like Ball, Milner has the uncanny trait of keeping the ball moving on the pitch while he decides how best to use it.

"He might not have the pace of Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon or Shaun Wright-Phillips. But as the tortoise will confirm, the hare does not always win the race."

Have your say