Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Milner spots an opening for England

James Milner has vowed to step forward should England need his services as a penalty taker at next summer's World Cup finals despite his recent dismal record from the spot.

And the Aston Villa utility player has insisted he would be unfazed by the pressure if presented with such a scenario at football's biggest tournament.

Milner was unable to convert a penalty for the England Under-21s against Sweden during the European Championship in the summer and has twice failed for Villa during the current campaign.

But he will not be lacking in courage or confidence should a similar opportunity arise with his country as he prepares for Saturday's friendly international with Brazil in Doha.

Milner said: “I'll definitely be up for taking a penalty at the World Cup. I'll always put myself forward for penalties.

“I know I've had a bit of a bad time recently. It is one of those things. It is how you bounce back

“But I've got confidence and scored a few penalties before this bad run, believe it or not. Everyone has bad runs. It is about how you come through the other side.”

Milner said: “I wouldn't be put off by the pressure of a World Cup. What prepares you are youth and Under-21 tournaments for England and the Premier League. Those are pressure situations anyway.

“I've taken a few in the Under-21s. In the previous European Championships tournament, when we went to a penalty shoot-out (against Holland) I scored them both.

“Maybe those sort of tournaments are not quite the same in terms of pressure of a World Cup semi-final or final, but it's having the practice of being in a similar situation.”

Milner has built a reputation of being a versatile player and was even used by Fabio Capello as a left-back when coming on as substitute in last month's clash with Belarus at Wembley.

Martin O'Neill's £12 million signing is hoping being a jack of all trades may give him the edge when the Italian comes to naming his squad to go to South Africa next June.

Milner said: “It might help (being versatile). There is a lot of competition for places, a lot of quality players. Any little thing that helps you is obviously a good thing.”

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