Collins: Milner can be our Gerrard
Milner has been transformed since Villa boss Martin O'Neill switched him to central midfield from the wing, with his performance in Thursday's Carling Cup victory over Blackburn serving as the latest testimony. Milner scored the only goal of the first leg of the semi-final to put Villa in firm control of the tie, starting and finishing a stunning breakaway move in the 23rd minute at Ewood Park. Following the game, O'Neill was naturally effusive in his praise for the 24-year-old, who looks to be fast securing himself a ticket to the World Cup in coach Fabio Capello's England squad. Serving his country in the centre of midfield may prove difficult given the dominance of Lampard and Gerrard in that position, but for his club Milner is becoming a revelation. "Is he turning into a figure like Gerrard and Lampard? Yes, he's been superb," said defender Collins of Milner, who has scored seven goals this season, including five in his last 11 matches. "I knew about him before coming to Villa and now I've seen the quality. He is a very professional lad in the way he looks after himself, and I think it shows in the way he plays. "He's in tremendous form, and being in the England squad is going to give him massive confidence, and he's showing that with us." With Stewart Downing now on one wing and Ashley Young the other, Villa's midfield is arguably one of the quickest in the Barclays Premier League. "They can all catch pigeons!" Collins said. He added: "It's great for a defender. If we defend and keep clean sheets, we know those boys are going to go up the other end and score. "We were breaking away all night against Blackburn. If we sit back and defend, we can then give the ball to the boys who can run and they can do their magic the other end. "So long as we keep doing that we'll be scoring goals all season." Milner is appreciably revelling in his new-found role and form. He said: "Obviously when you are playing wide you are always at an angle, and any chance you get in the middle is only a half chance out wide. "Hopefully, I will get more goals in the middle, but as long as I'm contributing to the team that's the main thing. "It's important you get goals all over the field. Gabby (Agbonlahor) has been in great form this year, John (Carew) is always going to get goals and Emile (Heskey) as well, but it's important we take a bit of pressure off our strikers. "But I've always said I wanted to score more goals, and playing in the middle will allow me to do that."
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