Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Milner Move Makes Sense; Southgate Keen of Defence for Gareth

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Milner Move Makes Sense; Southgate Keen of Defence for Gareth

Article excerpt

GARETH SOUTHGATE will concentrate on midfield when he attempts to re-shape his squad for the new season with James Milner emerging as a serious summer target.

Steve Sidwell of Chelsea, Tom Huddlestone of Spurs and Heerenveen's USA international Michael Bradley are also being monitored by Boro.

But it's the Newcastle man who would prove the least problematical to sign.

Milner is just 22 but has been a Premier League regular for five years since making his breakthrough at the age of 16 at Leeds.

When cash-strapped United were relegated in May 2004, he was sold to Newcastle to raise funds and, apart from a loan spell at Aston Villa in 2005/06, he's been there since.

Kevin Keegan rates the former England Under-21 international but will have to sell to buy in the summer as owner Mike Ashley tightens the purse strings.

The Leeds-born player signed a new four year contact with Newcastle in July and taking that and his age into account, will command a transfer fee in the region of pounds 5m.

Much will depend on Gary O'Neil's future.

The London-born midfielder's partner hasn't settled in the North-east since his August move from Portsmouth.

Southgate wants to resolve the situation quickly and hopes O'Neil will commit his future to Boro. But if he can't then the manager will look to move him on with the intention of getting back the pounds 5m fee he paid Pompey.

If O'Neil leaves, Milner could replace him on the right side of midfield.

It's an area of the field that needs attention.

Southgate, was dealt a major blow last summer when he lost strikers Mark Viduka and Yakubu and the 35 goals they had contributed during the previous campaign.

Much of Southgate's summer and January transfer windows were spent trying to find the players to plug that gap and, albeit at great expense, he is confident pounds 12. …

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