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By ESPN Staff
Aug 31, 2006

Toon's Milner holding Villa talks

Aston Villa are closing in on the signing of Newcastle winger James Milner in a £4million deal.

The West Midlands club are optimistic Milner will put pen to paper on a long-term deal after travelling down from the north-east to hold talks with Villa manager Martin O'Neill.

That will take O'Neill's spending spree to £12million in 24 hours following the capture of Celtic midfielder Stilian Petrov for £8million on Wednesday.

Milner was a popular figure with Villa players and supporters during his season-long loan last year when he was one of the few success stories as they flirted with relegation for lengthy periods.

The England Under-21 international always claimed he was happy to stay at Villa on a permanent basis before returning to the Magpies in the summer.

Glenn Roeder assured Milner he was part of his plans and the player made all the right noises in saying he was willing to fight for his place at St James' Park.

But Villa's bid for the former Leeds player is understood to be one they have not been able to refuse.

Newcastle had been contemplating using Milner in part exchange for a possible swoop for Middlesbrough striker Mark Viduka but that deal is not happening.

Milner was regarded as one of this country's most exciting prospects during his formative years at Leeds before moving to Newcastle in a £3.6million deal in the summer of 2004.

But Sir Bobby Robson was sacked as manager after a month of the 2004-05 campaign and his successor Graeme Souness once said: 'We won't win anything with a team of James Milners.'

Milner was reunited with his former Leeds manager David O'Leary at Villa last season as part of the deal which saw Nolberto Solano head back to Newcastle.

He admitted to benefiting from playing regular first-team football at Villa before being laid low with a severe virus in the latter stages of the campaign.