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Milner could leave Aston Villa admits O'Neill

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has admitted it will be difficult to keep James Milner out of the clutches of Manchester City if the midfielder wants to go.

Villa rejected one approach from City - believed to be for around £20million - before the World Cup, but the Eastlands club are expected to step up their interest once again.

An improved offer could be too high for Villa to refuse and O'Neill today appeared to open the door for the 23-year-old's departure.

"Eventually if players do want to leave the football club, or any football club for that matter, then it becomes more difficult than ever before," O'Neill told Sky Sports News.

"But what I will say is we have a better chance of performing in the manner in which we did last season if we could keep the best players and James Milner comes into that equation."

Milner, Villa's record signing at £12million from Newcastle, has two years left on his current contract, but has so far declined to sign an extension offered to him this summer.