England squad is united says James Milner

James Milner insists there are no cliques in the England squad and that there is "good banter" between all the players.

Former England midfielder Paul Scholes had claimed there were divisions during his international career, which ran from 1997 to 2004, with players remaining with club-mates because of domestic rivalries.

But Manchester City midfielder Milner, currently preparing for Friday's vital Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro, is adamant the players brought together by head coach Fabio Capello are united.

Milner, 25, said: "There is always good banter amongst the lads, whether it's United-City lads or anyone really."

Discussing Scholes' remarks, Milner said: "I can't comment on his (Scholes') time in the squad but I've not seen it while I've been here. Since I've been here, the players have been very together.

"We've got a good bunch of lads, good banter around the dining table, everyone eats and leaves the table together, games of table tennis etc. Everyone mixes.

"It is a tight group and players playing together at different clubs and also through the various England youth teams helps that team spirit.

"There are no strangers. Everyone knows each other and that definitely helps.

"We are always fighting for the same thing every time we step out onto that field and that is the most important thing."

England need to avoid defeat against Montenegro to qualify for next summer's finals and Milner expects there to be gaps to be exploited which were not evident in the goalless draw between the teams at Wembley.

He said: "We've had some good performances and some poorer ones in the group but what it boils down to is that it is in our own hands going into the last game.

"That's all you can ask for really. They'll have to come out because they need to win the game which I think will help us as well.

"We saw them at Wembley, they are well organised, but we are confident we can get a good result.

"When teams come to Wembley they set up with a game plan to defend and there is a lot of respect there and it is sometimes quite difficult to break teams down.

"Maybe at home teams feel they can come out against us more and it can open up the space to play and enable us to use our quality a bit more."

City have five players in the squad and Milner is particularly impressed with the contribution of goalkeeper Joe Hart and midfielder Gareth Barry to England's cause.

Milner said: "Joe is a class 'keeper. You've seen it with Man City, I've seen it with the England Under-21s and now for the senior side.

"He distributes the ball very well, sets you on attack, and his shot-stopping is fantastic.

"He has played a lot of games over the last year or so and, the more games he plays, the better he will get.

"With Gareth, I played with him at Aston Villa and Man City and he is a top, top player and week in and week out you can rely on him.

"He wins the ball, is fantastic on the ball, has great composure.

"A lot of people don't realise the job he does in sides both for England and City until maybe he misses a game, if he ever misses one through injury which is rare.

"He has got a great engine and plays a lot of games as well and I don't think you realise what he gives to the team until he is not there."

PA

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