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The 28-year-old may use the tournament as a chance to impress with his club future uncertain - and his energy, all-round ability and versatility make him a key asset

One of the few players to come out of England's disastrous 2010 campaign in South Africa with any credit, James Milner is hoping to carry the momentum borne of a second Premier League title win in three seasons with Manchester City into his second World Cup - this time as a more senior figure in a youthful squad.

The 28-year-old's future at the Etihad Stadium is far from certain beyond the summer and he may well see this tournament as a shop window. Goal takes a look at how he is shaping up ahead of this summer's finals.

SEASON 2013-14 ANALYSIS

He might have ended the season with another Premier League winners' medal, but Milner is entitled to feel frustrated.

An astonishing 22 of his 37 appearances last season came from the substitutes' bench, and only one in the central midfield position which he considers to be his best.

Milner has simply not convinced Manuel Pellegrini that he is worth a regular starting spot, with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho favoured in the middle and Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri preferred on the flanks.

But the former Aston Villa man has remained a consummate professional throughout, accepting his peripheral role and making a decisive impact in key matches, most notably against Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

PREVIOUS TOURNAMENT EXPERIENCE

This will be Milner's third major international tournament after making his senior international debut at the relatively late age of 23 in a friendly clash with Netherlands in August 2009.

The midfielder's blistering final season form for Aston Villa, coupled with his positional versatility, persuaded Fabio Capello to take him to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Capello's men largely disgraced themselves at the tournament but Milner provided one of the more positive moments when he set up Jermain Defoe's winning goal against Slovenia with an impressively pinpoint cross.

Milner soon became a key figure for Capello's successor Roy Hodgson, starting all four of England's matches in Euro 2012 and providing industry and discipline on the right flank.

LIKELY ROLE IN THE SQUAD

The smart money would be on Milner again being employed in a box-to-box role on the flank by Hodgson, particularly against Italy in the smothering humidity of Manaus on June 14.

It is a position from where he can provide greater defensive cover than many of England's other wingers, while also carrying an attacking threat with his deceptive skill and accurate crossing.

However, Hodgson's relative lack of options in central midfield also means Milner featuring as part of a three-man engine room alongside Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson cannot be ruled out.

Ultimately, in a tournament which limits every country to just 23 players, the 28-year-old's attitude, all-round technical competence and sheer versatility make him a key asset.



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