James Milner is confident the domination of the Premier League by the big four can be broken and he believes Aston Villa have as good a chance as anyone of doing the breaking. Milner became the latest young English player of potential to join Martin O'Neill's Villa revolution when he made the £12m move out of Newcastle a fortnight ago.
The 22-year-old could make his first start in tonight's match at Tottenham since spending the entire 2005-06 campaign on loan at Villa under the then manager David O'Leary. And Milner recognises the vast strides the club have made since his initial spell, as they look to improve on finishing sixth last season and qualifying for the Uefa Cup via the Intertoto Cup.
"The top four is tough to get into but a club will get in there at some point," he said. "It can't stay the way it is for ever and Villa are in as good a position as anyone to challenge that. I can really see how far Villa have come since I was last here.
"You only have to look at the first game of my two spells here. Three years ago we were beaten 4-0 at West Ham on my debut. This time we drew at home with Liverpool and it could have been better. The lads were disappointed not to get three points."
O'Neill looks likely to be again without midfielder Steve Sidwell after he suffered a knee injury but defender Carlos Cuellar, signed from Rangers for £7.8m, could play after coming through two reserve games following a calf problem.
Craig Gardner has signed a new four-year deal that will keep him at Villa Park until 2012.