James Milner admits Gareth Barry's departure represents a big blow for Aston Villa, but he is confident Martin O'Neill can find replacements.
Barry sealed a £12million move to rivals Manchester City this summer, despite stating last summer that he wanted to play UEFA Champions League football when requesting a transfer.
While disappointed to see the England midfielder move on, Milner believes O'Neill will bolster the squad.
Milner, who made the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra, said: "After last summer, maybe a move was on the cards for Gareth.
"There were things being said in the media three quarters of the way through the year about how we needed Champions League football for him to consider staying.
"It's disappointing for me because you want to play with the best players and he is definitely one of them as he has proven over the last two seasons.
"I think he has improved and is even better than he was before and has moved onto the next level through playing for England.
Any club losing a player of his quality and calibre is going to
"He was a major player for us. He is a top class player and it's disappointing that he's gone but we've got some top class players and I am sure the manager will bring players in to replace him."
He added: "Stiliyan Petrov is still here and is a great player who has just signed a new contract and will give us experience.
"Craig Gardner is always improving and will want more games. Steve Sidwell has had a bit of trouble with injuries but he is still there. There is already quality here in our squad."
Regarding Barry's decision to join City rather than seek Champions League football, Milner added: "Gareth made that decision and thought that was the best move for him.
"He has been at Villa for a long time and I suppose he has reached the point where he feels he needs a fresh start and a fresh challenge.
"He has made what he thinks is the best decision for him and he gave his all for Villa all the time he was there. He did it every day in training. He was a great example and a great player for Villa."
Milner will now link up with the England U21 squad for the European Championship in Sweden before having a summer break to recharge.
He said: "You want to play in these tournaments because, if you are eventually picked for the senior squad in a tournament, the experience can only stand you in good stead."