Villa boss O’Neill reveals Capello talks sparked Milner central plans

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill admits James Milner has exceeded his expectations in his central midfield role.

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill admits James Milner has exceeded his expectations in his central midfield role.

O'Neill revealed he first thought of moving Milner inside from the flanks following a conversation with England boss Fabio Capello - who asked about deploying him at right-back.

Since then he has "exceeded everybody's expectations".

"I talked to him at the start of the season because I had played him right back in one or two games," said O'Neill to Villa's website.

"I met Fabio Capello out in Spain and Fabio was asking about James and I said he's a wonderful fellow.

"He said 'do you think he could play right-back?' I said he could play right-back but that is not his position.

"So I relayed this conversation to James who was delighted to hear that Capello was even speaking about him and we were then talking about where I could see him playing.

"I said I don't see why you, Stewart Downing when he's fit and Ashley Young cannot play in the side.

"In fact, I actually saw him being able to play centre midfield and I think he'll admit that.

"So we waited until Downing became fit to put him in there and while he has probably exceeded everybody's expectations, I still expected him to make a fairly decent impact in there."

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