Milner to quit England rather than take bit-part role

Date published: Sunday 27th March 2016 9:49

James Milner: Could quit England after European Championship

James Milner will quit England duty after the European Championship is he is only going to have a “lesser role” with the national team going forward.

Milner made his England debut in 2009 against Holland and is in line to pick up his next cap against the same side on Tuesday night.

The 30-year-old is the only member of Fabio Capello’s squad from that friendly who is involved in Roy Hodgson’s ranks for the double-header against Germany and the Dutch.

The Liverpool man has more caps than anyone in Hodgson’s party and is likely to go to Euro 2016 as one of England’s experienced campaigners.

But he will seek talks with Hodgson after the summer, if indeed the 68-year-old remains in charge beyond the European Championship, and is ready to step aside if it looks as though he has fallen down the pecking order,.

“I don’t know really, I can see pluses and minuses for both and you probably get criticised either way whichever way you take it,” he said when asked if he would be tempted to walk away from international football before dropping out of contention.

“I think that is a conversation I will probably have with the manager at the start of next season.

“I don’t want to be travelling around and not really contributing and being a good tourist. I want to contribute and if the manager sees I have a part to play then great and if not it is better for me to set aside and let younger guys travel around.

“I have been in four tournaments and built up a lot of caps and a lot of experience. Travelling around now I can help the younger guys. It’s beneficial for a younger guy to come in and travel around.

“That’s a conversation I will have with the manager and see where he sees me and if I am going to take on a lesser role it is probably better for someone else to step up.”

Milner’s debut almost seven years ago came in a squad that included Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Frank Lampard and David Beckham.

Now the two-time Premier League winner is a member of the old guard, alongside the likes of Wayne Rooney, who is currently injured, Joe Hart and Gary Cahill.

They are helping to bring through Hodgson’s latest generation in the form of Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Harry Kane.

Milner has noticed a change in his squad status since becoming an elder statesmen and thinks the senior members of the current squad are not as daunting as the group he was welcomed in to.

Asked if his role has changed since 2009, he said: “Yes, definitely I’d have thought so. When I came into the squad you had the likes of John Terry, Rio, David Beckham, these sorts of guys, and then obviously younger guys coming into the squad – now it’s probably an easier environment for them to come into.

“Obviously it’s not quite as intimidating for them coming in with me as one of the senior players, because I think Becks has got a slightly bigger following around the globe than me.”

Milner has filled a variety roles for both club and country, from full-back to winger to central midfielder.

And he admits his versatility may have harmed his chances of regular football throughout his club career, even if he believes it has made him a more complete footballer.

“I think you can see both sides,” he replied when asked if his career had suffered because of it.

“I think playing in one position helps you play your best football, you are going out there every week and you are playing – whether it is out wide or in the middle – in a partnership and you get used to that.

“The more you do something the more comfortable you are and you are going to get better and better. Playing in different positions has probably helped my understanding of the game more and made me a more rounded player.”

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