Milner would relish Scholes link-up

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The Independent Football

New Manchester City midfielder James Milner would love to play alongside Paul Scholes for England.

So far national team manager Fabio Capello has failed to tempt the Old Trafford veteran out of retirement.

But Milner, who gave his first formal press conference today, hopes Scholes might have a change of heart.

Scholes has made an impressive start to the season and scored his 150th goal in all competitions for Manchester United in the draw against Fulham on Sunday.

Milner said: "Paul Scholes is a top player. As someone lucky enough to be an England player and an England fan you want the best players out there.

"He has been one of the best midfielders in the Premier League since it started. It is down to England and the manager but to get the chance to play with him would be unbelievable.

"He is still doing it now, which is a testament to his professionalism and how well he has looked after himself. If he came into the England set-up again it would be fantastic."

Milner got off to a winning start, helping City beat Liverpool 3-0 on his debut, following his protracted move from Aston Villa with Stephen Ireland going the other way.

He said: "To get the result we did was great. It was a good performance against a top team. Your first home game can go two ways.

"It can either be very good or very disappointing. Luckily enough it was the first. Hopefully we can build on that and kick on.

"Central midfield is my best position but it is down to the manager where he wants me to play. We have a lot of quality players in the squad.

"You are going to come up against different teams, different formations. We are lucky to have flexible players, who can play in a number of formations."

Sheikh Mansour took in a match for the first time since the Abu Dhabi Group took control of the club.

Then he had a chat with manager Roberto Mancini, who said: "He was happy with the victory and the performance. He was happy for the supporters.

"I think it was a fantastic night for him. I hope he comes more often because it is important for us."

Milner, for his part, has nothing but praise for former Villa manager Martin O'Neill and owner Randy Lerner.

O'Neill left the club suddenly and Milner said: "He did a fantastic job at Aston Villa. The club has come forward leaps and bounds.

"Randy Lerner is there and has done a fantastic job. The club is in great hands. He was brilliant with me. The way he has run the club so far is top notch.

"I am sure the fans are very happy he is at the helm and looking forward to him guiding them to success."

Milner will sit out the return leg of the Europa League match at Eastlands tomorrow against FC Timisoara with City holding a 1-0 advantage as he was not registered in time.

Mario Balotelli, who scored the winner in Romania, is again sidelined with a knee problem after missing the Liverpool match.

However the former Inter Milan striker is expected to return against Sunderland on Sunday.

Mancini said: "Mario is still sore, so we must wait over the next two days. He has this problem in his knee.

"We will wait for the Sunderland game, not for tomorrow, it is impossible he is not fit for that match.

"We won the first game against Timisoara but it was difficult. I will make three or four changes as it is impossible for players to play every three days."