Petrov urges Aston Villa to retain Milner

Skipper Stiliyan Petrov believes it is vital Aston Villa hold onto newly crowned PFA Young Player Of The Year James Milner if they are to continue to make progress.

The Bulgaria international has urged Villa to try and match the ambitions of Milner, who has been the subject of speculation linking him with a move to Manchester United.

The 24-year-old is halfway through a four-year deal and is due to have talks over a new contract in the summer.

Villa went through a similar scenario with one of their top stars 12 months ago, when Gareth Barry moved to Manchester City after 12 seasons at Villa Park.

But the midlands club have taken further strides forward this season under manager Martin O'Neill and are still in contention for a Champions League spot after yesterday's win over Birmingham.

Petrov said: "There are a lot of players at this club performing at a high level so there's going to be speculation. They are very good, young talented players with big futures.

"If the club wants to go forward, we need to keep our best players like any big team - Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

"They've tried to hold onto their best players and I hope our chairman and manager will do their best to keep our good players as well."

Petrov added: "It is very important we keep James. We have got a lot of talent at this club which has cost a lot of money. We need to make sure they are happy and stay here.

"He's been enjoying his football and that's the main thing for a player.

"If we try to match his ambition, and the club show they are doing things the right way, I don't think James will go somewhere else.

"People say that if Manchester United coming knocking at your door, it's a different question, that the manager and the player then need to make a decision.

"James can play in any team and at that level but we hope he will stay with us."

Villa have taken 13 points from five games since the 7-1 mauling at Chelsea appeared to have ended their chances of a top-four finish.

But Petrov is adamant that Villa have never given up hope of achieving that goal.

He said: "I remarked four or five weeks ago, when people were writing us off, that there would be plenty of twists and turns and that's what happened.

"Fair play to Tottenham, they took their chances in two games that many people didn't expect them to win (against Arsenal and Chelsea).

"We're still in the mix and it's up to us now. We'll probably have to wait for other teams to drop points but it's up to us to try and win our games.

"We're going in the right direction and we'll see what happens at the end of the season.

"It's been a great season with the two cup runs and we've said all along that we wanted to make sure such a great season didn't end with us having nothing to show for our efforts."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish believes on-loan keeper Joe Hart is a "certainty" to go to the World Cup with England.

England coach Fabio Capello saw Hart produce another superb display at Villa Park until beaten by Milner's controversial late penalty.

McLeish said: "Joe is a certainty to go to the World Cup. I can't pick Mr Capello's squad but he has been part and parcel of it even before he came to Birmingham.

"I spoke to Fabio and his coach after the Community Shield last August and they were delighted Joe was coming to Birmingham because he was going to play every week.

"The fact he has come here and every week played at a very high level has probably been the icing on the cake for the coaching staff of England."

Blues defender Roger Johnson must wait to see if he will face disciplinary action over his verbal attack on referee Martin Atkinson.

Johnson claimed Atkinson "was a disgrace for the whole game" after he awarded the match-deciding spot-kick against him for a challenge on Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week