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September 23, 2017

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Dependable Milner may play key role for England

MIAMI -- In an England squad with several exciting young players James Milner likely won't set pulses racing, but the versatile Manchester City midfielder could play a vital role in Roy Hodgson's plans in Brazil.

The 28-year-old Milner has been part of the England set-up since making his debut for the Under-16 team 13 years ago.

With Hodgson giving opportunities to some players with barely more than a season of Premier League soccer under their belts, that experience could be invaluable.

His ability to offer defensive cover in midfield as well as provide width or support for the strikers provides Hodgson with useful tactical options, but he remains a player who many fans find lacking in sparkle.

"The opinion of the manager and my teammates is really the only one that matters to me," he told reporters on Monday before rejecting the notion that he is little more than a steady option.

"You can look at the number of goals I've created in the Premier League in my career and see where that puts me. I'm sure I'd be quite high up in that.

"If a footballer can do that, create goals but also do a job for the team defensively, is that a bad thing? People say I'm a containing player. Maybe if I was lazy they wouldn't think that. If I kept more energy to go forward, what would the perception be then? Would I be lazy and shouldn't be playing because of that?" he said.

If that response suggests Milner is somewhat irked by his public image that would be slightly misleading.

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