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Milner targets a key role

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James Milner has set his sights on winning a regular place in the Newcastle United side this season - something he has never had.


The England Under-21 international often found himself the fall guy when Graeme Souness replaced Sir Bobby Robson, the man who brought him to St James' Park from Leeds United for £3.5m


It wasn't until Milner went out on loan to Aston Villa, where he thrived under David O'Leary, that he knew his name was going to be on the team sheet.


Now he wants to make it impossible for Glenn Roeder to leave him out of his Newcastle United team - and he is desperate to get his stop-start St James' Park career back on track this term.


Milner will have been disappointed at his performance in the 1-1 draw with Lillestrom on Saturday, but he is still only 20 and perhaps needs a regular position in the side.


He met Roeder for talks in the summer before reporting back, when he was told it was up to him to show what he can do.


Milner said today: "I came up and spoke to him, and he was great.


"He said - like I knew - that no one was guaranteed a place. He said all he could do was give me the stage to play on, and the rest was down to me.


"That's all I can ask for - a fair crack of the whip. If you're not playing well, you don't deserve to be in the team.


"It's down to me to play well in training and make sure the manager can't leave me out, and then do it on the pitch."


The under-fire O'Leary would still love to take Milner back to the Midlands in a permanent transfer - and the Villa fans would love that as well.


Milner added: " From the day I went down there, everyone was asking if it was going to be permanent.


"But I know there's always going to be speculation, especially with a club as big as Newcastle. Aston Villa's a big club as well.


"You just get on with the job you're there to do. I always knew it was a year-long loan and if anything happened from then, it would be worked out between the clubs."


But this season he hopes his versatility can be his biggest strength and, given that Roeder played him up front against Lillestrom, that could turn out to be the case.


The right-sided midfielder also played on the left in his last season at Leeds United, and Milner says he has worked hard on being two-footed.


"I think my versatility's a strength," he added.


"Look at all the best players in the world - they can use both feet.


"I've always worked hard on both feet because it helps you. I don't mind playing on the left.


"This is a massive club, and you need competition for places."

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