Milner believes England able to lean on Lescott in qualifiers

FORMER Leeds United winger James Milner is backing Manchester City team-mate Joleon Lescott to fill the gap left in the England squad by Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.

Joleon Lescott.

Lescott was one of England’s most successful performers at the Euro 2012 finals only to receive limited opportunities at City during the current campaign.

But Milner has no doubts Lescott will be ready for the games ahead which will have a big bearing on whether manager Roy Hodgson’s side can book a spot in Brazil in 15 months.

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He said: “Joleon hasn’t played loads of games for City this year, but when he has done, he has played well. He had a great season last year, a great Euro 2012 and he will be full of confidence and ready to go.

“I don’t think we will be affected by the withdrawals (of Ferdinand, Gary Cahill and Michael Dawson). Joleon has now come in, has played a lot of games for England and is a top player as well.

“I see him day-in and day-out, the work he puts in at the gym, keeping himself right, his work with the fitness and physio guys before training.

“Whether he is playing or not, he is always ready to go. With the attitude and the professional he is, whenever he has played for City this year, he has been top notch and will be ready for Friday.”

Milner has also been reunited with another defender called up in Newcastle’s Steven Taylor, whom he played with at club level and at England youth level.

He said of the 27-year-old: “He is a bit mad. He will be a bit quieter this week because he is new and will be figuring things out. I’m sure as he gets more comfortable, he will be having a joke and a bit of banter as he normally does.

“I think he’s had a few injury problems, but hopefully he has put those behind him now.

“I was in the Under-16s Victory Shield England squad with ‘Tayls’ and knew him from Newcastle. He has been having a good season and has earned his place in the squad.

“He’s always on the line, sticking his head on the line, running into goalposts and that’s the kind of guy he is. He will put his body on the line for the team. You need those sort of characters.”

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