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James Milner set for showdown with Villa boss O'Neill

James Milner was today set for showdown talks with Villa boss Martin O'Neill over his transfer row.


James Milner was today set for showdown talks with Villa boss Martin O'Neill over his transfer row.

The 24-year-old reports back for training on Monday after his post-World Cup break, but is said to be furious O'Neill went public over his desire to quit for Manchester City.

Milner disputes O'Neill's version of events from the meeting held before the World Cup - where the Villa chief says the midfielder confirmed he wanted to quit.

He will seek talks with O'Neill on Monday after reportedly failing to speak to his boss since the manager's revelation on Thursday. A new £24m bid from City is imminent after Eastlands boss Roberto Mancini reaffirmed his determination to sign him.

"Milner is a good player," said the Italian, who had a £20m bid rejected in May. "Today he is an Aston Villa player but if we had the chance to sign him I think we should."

But Milner is likely to be spared any fans' backlash at Walsall on Tuesday. He hasn't trained since the World Cup and O'Neill seems set to leave him out of the squad. Villa fans are angry the England ace wants to quit and were primed to vent their feelings.

The pre-season fixture at the Banks's Stadium brings back memories of when Gareth Barry was abused by fans on his return to action after revealing his desire to move to Liverpool in 2008.

Villa's transfer budget hinges on whether Milner leaves and chairman Randy Lerner's right-hand man has told fans the club must pay its way in the harsh economic climate.

General Charles Krulak says Villa must sell high-earning players who are not being used.

He said: "'Sell to buy' is too easy a sentence to say. In reality, it encompasses many things. At the end of the day, football is a business and needs to make sense.

"The first issue on the revenue v. expenditure scale is wages - wages for the staff and wages for the players. Simply put, if we don't look at those players who are drawing wages but not playing, we are making a mistake."

n Ashley Young was today reported to be a target for Tottenham.

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