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Feb 9, 2009

Milner - Villa are taking nothing for granted

James Milner celebrated his call-up to the senior England squad by vowing that he and his other Aston Villa teammates ''will not rest on their laurels'' after consolidating their claim on Champions League spot.

While many observers thought Martin O'Neill's side would eventually fade as the season progressed, Villa are now seven points clear of fourth-placed Arsenal after gaining a club record seventh successive away league win at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

But Milner, one of six Villa players in Fabio Capello's England squad for Wednesday's friendly international against Spain in Seville, is confident Villa will not get carried away with their current lofty position.

Milner said: ''We have confidence, belief and momentum and those factors are massive in football. It's no surprise when you look at the run we've been on - especially away from home.

''It's never easy going away from Villa Park but we're picking up results. We're playing well too. We're not nicking things. We're playing good football and deserving the victories. That's important.

''We just need to keep going, keep improving and keep working hard. We don't want to rest on our laurels. It's a great season so far and people keep throwing things in like Champions League qualification - but we're not thinking about that at all.

''We just need to keep playing football and keep our minds on the job in hand.''

Milner is delighted to finally make the international breakthrough at senior level alongside Villa teammates Gabriel Agbonlahor, Gareth Barry, Emile Heskey, Ashley Young and Luke Young.

''To represent your country at any level is fantastic but to be called up to the full squad is an absolute honour and a real proud moment in my career,'' said Milner.

''I am thrilled and I can't wait to work hard and try to do well in training. Villa have six players in the national squad, which is a huge achievement too. Credit has to go to the manager Martin O'Neill for that.

''It'll be great to be part of the set-up and to have so many lads from Villa there too will make it even better.''

Meanwhile, Peter Taylor, knows first hand about Milner's qualities from his spell as England Under-21 coach, has hailed the Villa player's ''incredible work ethic''.

He believes Milner is not yet the finished article despite playing a leading part in Aston Villa's push for a Champions League spot this season after a club record £12m move from Newcastle United.

But Taylor knows Milner's willingness to put in lengthy hours on the training pitch and his desire to learn and improve will stand him in good stead.

Taylor said: ''You couldn't meet a nicer, more professional boy. He works his socks off for the team and I am sure Martin O'Neill is delighted with him - and he is still young.

''He has played millions of games for the under-21s. He will still know where he has got to improve. He is not the finished article yet but if there is anyone who will work at it, it will be him.

''He has just got to do a little bit more. He has got to make a few more goals, and score a few more goals.

''But if he is playing wide right and you are the right-back, then you are over the moon because he will put his shift in defensively and always be available when you have got the ball. He has an incredible work ethic.

''He is great to have in your team and he just keeps working and working to improve. He is playing in a very good team at Villa, who all know what they are doing, and he is playing with confidence.''

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