Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

TITLE SCRAPS SHOW CITY MILNER VALUE ; Game-Time the Biggest Factor as Midfielder Weighs Up Where Future Lies

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

TITLE SCRAPS SHOW CITY MILNER VALUE ; Game-Time the Biggest Factor as Midfielder Weighs Up Where Future Lies

Article excerpt

THE two best teams in England are crammed with foreign superstarsfiand yet in both meetings of City and Chelsea this season it has been James Milner who took the man-ofthe-match award.

If that does not convince Manuel Pellegrini that the England midfielder should be a regular in his first team, and convince Milner himself that he should stay with the Blues, nothing will.

The doubts over Milner's future with the Blues continue to linger, with just four months left of his current deal.

The player's representatives have been meeting regularly with City offi-cials in a bid to break the deadlock over a new contract, but the bottom line for Milner is not money.

He wants to play. And in the past he has felt underused and ignored when it came to the big games, despite proving his importance to the team time and time again.

With that in mind, it would not be a big surprise if Milner allowed his contract to run down, and then assessed how much football he has actually played, when it gets to the end of the season.

If that is the case, the omens are good.

Milner has already made 20 starts this season, plus 10 substitute appearances, and so is on course to have his busiest campaign since his first at City, in 2010/11.

But it may be the games for which he has been left out that may nag at Milner - he was on the bench for the opening Champions League matches against Bayern Munich and Roma, and possibly only played in subsequent Euro games because of injuries and suspensions to others.

The crunch comes now, as Samir Nasri is back in full training and expected to make his return against Hull on Saturday. That means Milner is in a tough fight for two places.

There are other options on the horizon for the 29-year-old Yorkshireman, not least the chance to succeed Steven Gerrard as the engineer at the heart of Liverpool.

With one eye on his England career, that chance would be tempting for anyone, let alone a player like Milner, steeped in the history and tradition of English football. …

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