James Milner puts focus on all-round performance for England, not goals

 

England midfielder James Milner was pleased to open his goalscoring account at senior international level last week but believes all-round contribution is more important.

The Manchester City ace scored the fourth goal in England's 5-0 victory over Moldova as Roy Hodgson's side started their World Cup qualifying campaign in style.

Milner, 26, has played a part in every international under Hodgson and has enjoyed a pivotal role in the new regime.

"If I was to never score another goal for England but we won the World Cup - and I was running around doing the not-glamorous things - I'd be delighted with that," he said.

"The main thing is contributing - whether it is with assists or doing the job you have to do for the team. That is what I'll do and hopefully that will mean scoring more goals.

When Milner first burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at Leeds he had a reputation as a goalscoring midfielder playing through the middle.

Although his game has since adapted and seen him turn into a wide player Milner revealed he still prefers a central role.

He said: "It is always nice scoring goals and contributing as much as you can. I think my best scoring season was at Aston Villa when I was in that more central role.

"I still think central is my best position. That is why Manchester City signed me from Aston Villa because I was playing the middle.

"It is down to the manager to pick the team and if he asks me to play wide, that is where I'll play as well as I can and perform as well as I can."

Milner has also been operating as a winger under Hodgson but believes the way the former Liverpool boss deploys his attacking players utilises his own attributes.

"I think the way the manager wants us to play is very different to maybe how you sometimes play at Manchester City and how we played under the previous manager," he said.

"The manager wants you coming in little pockets and playing in there and linking in with the strikers and midfielders and I think that probably helps as well. It adds more to my game than staying as wide as I can.

"I think you saw the other night there was a good freedom to the system. The other boys in the middle interchanged very well, rotation allowing them to get on the ball and wide men coming off the wing."

PA

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