James Milner ignoring Manchester City distractions

 

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The Independent Online

Midfielder James Milner intends to keep ignoring the critics who are attempting to undermine Manchester City's charge for glory.

After helping England overcome Sweden at Wembley last night, it is back to club business for Milner this weekend and a meeting with Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.

Yet the attraction of a clash between the top flight's last unbeaten teams has been diluted somewhat by the continuing saga involving Carlos Tevez, who is still to indicate when he is likely to return to Manchester after heading back to Argentina without permission last week.

The whole issue is becoming tiresome for Milner, who just wants to concentrate on helping City consolidate their position at the Premier League summit.

"As a team, we just keep moving forward," he said.

"There always seems to be things going on off the field at Manchester City and people wanting to knock you down with distractions.

"All we can do is concentrate on what we're there to do and that's play football and work hard in training."

Milner spent four seasons with the Tyneside outfit earlier in his career, although he was on loan at Aston Villa for one of them.

The 25-year-old understands acutely the passion Newcastle fans have for their club and how desperate they are for success.

It is no surprise how their excellent start to the season has been received therefore, although Milner does not feel the opposition gives Saturday's encounter any additional spice as far as he is concerned.

"Not really," he said. "You are always trying to win the game and giving 100% anyway, no matter who it is against.

"I had a great time up in Newcastle. It's a great place to play football and their fans will come down a make a great atmosphere."

Having maintained a 100% record on home soil so far, City will approach the contest in confident mood.

However, it promises to be the start of a pivotal couple of weeks.

Immediately after the Newcastle encounter comes a trip to Naples that will almost certainly determine whether City make it into the Champions League group phase.

After that they travel to Liverpool, where they were hammered last season, before heading down to Arsenal for a Carling Cup quarter-final.

How the Blues emerge from that will say much about their ability to maintain present high levels of performance, and Milner is aware Newcastle cannot be taken lightly, no matter what trials and tribulations are to come.

"They have started the season very well," he said.

"I don't think many people expected it because there have been a lot of changes up there.

"But, all credit to them, they're playing really well. They seem to have a really good team spirit and are getting good results as well.

"Hopefully we can get everybody back fit from internationals and pick up where we left off."

PA

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