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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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PFA defend Milner transfer request

The Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief executive has defended James Milner's decision to hand in a transfer request at Newcastle United, insisting the Aston Villa transfer target was left with 'no option'.

Newcastle have expressed their disappointment in the player's desire to seal a £10million move to Villa Park, but the PFA's Mike McGuire has backed the England Under 21s' decision after claiming the Magpies have refused to enter into contract discussions with his client.

'The request was given because the player was looking for an improvement on his contract that reflected his development and his value to the club,' McGuire explained.

'To clarify the situation, James did sign a contract 12 months ago. However, this agreement was reached with the club nearly 12 months previous at the point at which Newcastle had agreed to sell James to Aston Villa on transfer deadline day 2006 before cancelling the agreement at the 11th hour,' McGuire added.

'Since then he has played over 80 games for Newcastle. All James wanted was a deal that reflected his development and that was in line with Newcastle's transfer valuation of him.'

The 22-year-old earns significantly less than many of the first-team squad at St James' Park and it is normal practice for a young player's wages to be reviewed and improved on a regular basis to reflect their development at the club - that has not happened for Milner.

The Magpies have agreed to 'reluctantly consider' the request which would almost certainly allow the winger to rejoin the club where he spent a season on loan in 2005/06.

'Although the transfer request was handed in seven days ago, James has been professional in keeping the matter private whilst giving strong performances for Newcastle,' McGuire concluded.

As well as Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa, Liverpool are also reportedly interested in the player but Newcastle's valuation may put manager Rafael Benitez off pursuing the transfer.

Milner has impressed in all three of Newcastle's games this season and scored in the Magpies' 3-2 win over Coventry in the Carling Cup second round on Tuesday.

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