Milner ready to bring attacking spark to Barry’s holding role

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James Milner today threw his hat into the ring for the holding midfielder role in the England side, should ex-Aston Villa team-mate Gareth Barry not recover from his ankle injury in time.

Versatile Milner, who has played on either wing and in central attacking positions during his career, has offered his defensive services to Fabio Capello, who actually played the Yorkshireman at left-back for a period against Belarus last autumn.

The announcement of Milner’s candidacy comes a day after it emerged that Ledley King was being considered for the same midfield position, and it is clear that Capello will be testing out a number of possibilities given the potential loss of preferred man Barry.

Shifting the attack-minded Milner backwards instead of moving defender King upfield would certainly make England a more threatening side, but the move would be a bold one given Milner has never played there before.

Forward-thinking players have thrived in the position previously though, with Andrea Pirlo for Italy, Xabi Alonso for Spain and Juan Veron for Argentina all demonstrating an ability to break up opposition play as well as start attacking moves. The PFA Young Player of the Year clearly possesses the industry for such a dual purpose task.

Michael Carrick, Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone would be recognised as more natural replacements for Barry, but none of them has had the kind of impact season that the sought-after Milner has just completed, and Capello has made clear his criteria of selecting form players.

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