O'Neill confident Milner can perform for England

Martin O'Neill is confident James Milner will not let England down if the Aston Villa player is called upon to fill the void on the right created by David Beckham's Achilles injury.

Milner has operated with great success in a central midfield role in recent months for Villa and played an important part in their push for a Champions League spot.

He is expected to occupy that position alongside Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov in tonight's Barclays Premier League clash at Wigan.

But O'Neill is quick to remind people that Milner was equally as effective on the right flank before the return to fitness of Stewart Downing allowed him to switch inside.

O'Neill said: "James can play out there and probably that has been lost a bit since he moved into the middle.

"But he is an all-purpose player and, at this stage, James would have as good a chance as anyone of being on the plane outside of those absolutely nailed on to go to the World Cup.

"If he had to start on the right, he wouldn't let England down. Not at all. No problem."

O'Neill also feels Ashley Young and Downing should not give up hope of being part of Fabio Capello's plans this summer.

He said: "Beckham is not going now to the World Cup and that should allow a place for people to still climb on that plane to the World Cup and I include the likes of Stewart Downing and Ashley Young.

"I would think Stewart and Ashley shouldn't give up. They should continue to perform for Villa which is the only way they can get noticed and hope that is enough.

"Ashley has not been in recent squads and that will be a disappointment to him but he doesn't show it. He doesn't spend time thinking about it.

"His club form is bringing him to the attention of the England manager and I hope will continue to flourish."

O'Neill admits it is hard to know why Wigan's fortunes fluctuate so greatly given the fact they have defeated Villa, Chelsea and, most recently, Liverpool this season.

He said: "It has been a strange season for them. They beat us on the opening day of the season and within a few weeks were losing heavily to Manchester United at home and Tottenham away.

"But they have the ability, as they proved against Liverpool, that they can definitely play.

"It must be a source of annoyance to the manager that they can produce such wonderful football one week and not reproduce the following week."

Villa's leading scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor could return to the starting line-up at Wigan.

Agbonlahor missed the FA Cup quarter-final win at Reading through illness eight days ago and was only named amongst the substitutes for the weekend goalless draw at Stoke.

But the 14-goal player is now back to full fitness and may dislodge either John Carew or former Wigan striker Emile Heskey as Villa look to maintain their 2010 unbeaten league record.

Dr Nicola Brewer explains how the British High Commission in South Africa is preparing for the 2010 World Cup:

As part of preparations for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, staff at the British High Commission in Pretoria ran a consular emergency planning exercise with staff from the FCO's Crisis Response Centre in London:

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water