Why James Milner can be England’s new Owen Hargreaves

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James Dutton ponders England’s use of James Milner this summer, and wonders whether he can have a similar impact on the national team as Owen Hargreaves did in 2006…

It’s fashionable to knock James Milner. His sheer unfashionability demands it.

Milner has a certain longevity which is barely credible. He broke Wayne Rooney’s short-lived record as the youngest Premier League goalscorer nearly 12 years ago in December 2002 at 16 years and 309 days. He won 46 caps for the England U21s, over a five-year period, a total that he has only recently passed with the senior side – cap number 47 coming, ironically, filling in at right-back.

He was the recipient of the 2009-10 Young Player of the Year award, in his eighth season as a professional footballer, which says as much about the credentials of that award as it does Milner’s unspectacular consistency in the years leading up to it.

Everyone expected something different from Milner. When a 16-year old breaks the Premier League’s youngest goalscorer record you’re inclined to expect something more fantastical than what Milner has offered during his dependable and steady career. Continue reading