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Villa caretaker MacDonald cannot rule out playing Man City target Milner

Aston Villa caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald intends to play James Milner today against West Ham United.

Milner's £24million player-plus-cash move to Manchester City is on hold while makeweight Stephen Ireland sorts out a £2million pay-off at Eastlands.

So the England star is in line to play in today's Premier League opener.

And MacDonald said: "If James does play, I hope the Villa supporters get behind him and appreciate him for what he's done for this club over the past two years.

"They also need to remember he's playing for Aston Villa and until he signs on that dotted line, he's still a Villa player.

"I would not leave him out because of any crowd reaction he might get.

"I'd say James is probably in the right frame of mind to play and he's one of the toughest men mentally I've come across."

If he plays, Milner may run the risk of getting injured just as he prepares to complete his City move.

But MacDonald, who took over after Martin O'Neill walked out on Monday, added: "The only instruction I've had from the board is to try and get a team on the pitch to beat West Ham.

"From there you have to pick your best team - and James Milner is one of our best players. He's not had much game-time but he's in very good condition.

"I don't think James would see this as a farewell match, but as a football match.

"And surely if the board didn't want him to play, they would say."

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