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Villa include Milner in squad as future in air

Martin O'Neill has included James Milner (right) in Aston Villa's pre-season plans despite doubts still surrounding the future of the England midfielder.

Milner will fly out with the rest of the Villa squad tomorrow to Portugal to prepare for the Guadiana Cup against Feyenoord and Benfica.

The 24-year-old held what were described as "amicable" talks with O'Neill yesterday after reporting back for training a month after England's World Cup exit.

Milner has been the subject of one £20m bid from Manchester City, which was rejected by the Villa hierarchy.

He was reported to be upset last week after O'Neill had said he had "intimated" he wanted to leave the Villa Park outfit.

But O'Neill is keeping Milner involved in the build-up to the new campaign although he will not participate in tonight's friendly at near-neighbours Walsall.

Villa's chief executive Paul Faulkner and Milner's representative, PFA executive Matthew Buck, were also part of the discussions yesterday.

Villa issued a statement which read: "James Milner trained with the rest of the Villa squad at Bodymoor Heath.

"He and the manager, along with chief executive Paul Faulkner and the player's representative, Matthew Buck, had an amicable conversation. While James will not play in Tuesday's game at Walsall, he will fly with the squad to Portugal on Wednesday ahead of the Guadiana Cup, in which Villa will compete with Benfica and Feyenoord this weekend."

O'Neill is waiting to discover whether City will lodge an improved bid for Milner, who is valued at around £30m.

But Harry Redknapp admitted Milner was out of Tottenham's price range and insisted he has made no approach for Villa winger Ashley Young.

Milner will be happy not to have to tread the same path as Gareth Barry in avoiding having to play against Walsall.

Barry was the subject of much verbal abuse from Villa fans after he had made clear his desire to move to Liverpool in the same friendly two summers ago.

Barry eventually stayed at Villa for another year before moving to City last summer for £12m.


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