Milner ready for World Cup pressure

14 May 2010 09:25
James Milner says he will not wilt under the pressure to perform at a World Cup as he prepares for his first taste of football's biggest stage.[LNB] Milner has gone from being on the periphery of Fabio Capello's England squad 12 months ago to being regarded as a certainty to go to South Africa long before the Italian boss named his final 23-man squad.[LNB]He has reaped the benefits of being converted into a central midfielder by Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill this season and has been in outstanding form.[LNB]This was reflected in the 24-year-old - Villa's joint record signing at £12million - being chosen as the Professional Footballers Association's Young Player of the Year.[LNB]But it is Milner's experience at youth and under-21 levels, where he is England's most capped player, that has also helped to give him the belief he can cope with a World Cup finals.[LNB]Only last summer, Milner was part of the side which reached the semi-finals of the European Under-21 Championships under Stuart Pearce.[LNB]Milner said: "I wouldn't be put off by the pressure of a World Cup. That is what the youth and under-21 tournaments are for.[LNB]"They are pressure tournaments. Maybe there is not quite the pressure of a World Cup semi-final or final.[LNB]"I've been involved in England youth set-ups against African nations and South American teams so that is a big plus from playing at that level because you come up against different nations and styles in the World Cup.[LNB]"It's all about having the practice of being in a similar situation. The Premier League is the same. They are all pressure situations."[LNB]Milner has proved himself to be the kind of individual who can blend into different squads and is an ideal team player - another crucial attribute for the summer.[LNB]He said: "I think that is a massive part of tournament football and I've been involved in two under-21 tournaments and one with the under-17s.[LNB]"That is the point of the England youth set-up, to give you that experience so, if you are lucky enough to make the step up, you are used to being away from home and things like that.[LNB]"The manager looks at players who will do it on the field but who are also able to prepare mentally for the games, even though they might be a long way apart and you are away from home for a long time. Things like that all come into it."[LNB]Milner caught the eye in the August friendly with Holland and his international career has blossomed since then.[LNB]He said: "Last season, and the season before, there were a couple of squads I may have been in and, for one reason or another, I was injured.[LNB]"There is a lot of competition and, if you get a chance, you have to make sure you are ready to take it and prove a point that you should be involved.[LNB]"For that Holland game, I was ready to take the chance but you have to keep working well and prove that you should be in the squad.[LNB]"In the battle for the World Cup place every minute has counted with the quality in and around the England squad. There has been a pool of players battling to be in and around the squad."[LNB]Milner was a massive fan of Brazil when growing up and would dearly love to face them in South Africa.[LNB]He said: "You want to play against the best teams and best players and as a kid I always dreamed of playing for England against Brazil.[LNB]"After England, Brazil were always the team I wanted to watch in the World Cup. They have always been great to watch with a lot of quality players.[LNB]"When you are kicking a ball growing up, it always seemed to be Brazil you were playing against for England.[LNB]"Growing up Ronaldo was the one who stood out most. He scored some great goals, had great pace and great skill. Rivaldo was great as well - top, top players."[LNB]Milner has been used predominantly as a substitute by Capello but England legend Sir Geoff Hurst believes he is ready to be part of the starting line-up.[LNB]Milner said: "You always want to start games. You've got to prove you should be in the squad and then it is about battling for a place in the team.[LNB]"Hopefully I'll get a chance and then you've got to go out and play as well as you can. Everyone dreams of playing in a World Cup."

Source: Team_Talk