Milner relishing recovery time

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Published: Monday 5th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Manchester City midfielder-turned-striker James Milner intends to use a few days to recharge before the title quest resumes at the weekend.

Milner spared City’s blushes at the end of their festive programme by striking twice to edge out battling Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup third round.

City toiled against the Sky Bet Championship side at the Etihad Stadium, needing Milner’s second-half double, which included an injury-time winner, to scrape through 2-1.

It brought the busy Christmas spell, which saw City pull level with Chelsea at the top of the Barclays Premier League, to a successful conclusion and left them looking ahead with plenty of optimism.

There was the blemish of a 2-2 draw with Burnley on December 28, but City are still unbeaten in 13 and in good shape for a tough month that culminates with a trip to Stamford Bridge.

They return to league action with a trip to Everton on Saturday and then host Arsenal the following week.

England international Milner told City TV: “It is nice to have a spare week with the amount of games we have had and some of the injuries. Some of the lads have had to play a lot of games.

“It is important we recover now, and we use this week to refresh.

“It slows down a bit now but I think it has been a pretty successful festive period – we have closed the gap. We had one blip but have been on a pretty good run, even though we have had a few injuries.”

Injuries to strikers Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic saw midfielder Milner pressed into action as a makeshift centre-forward in December.

Jovetic is now back in action but so ineffective were City in the first half against the Owls that Milner was pushed back up front after the break.

He responded on what was his 29th birthday by cancelling out Adthe Nuhiu’s 14th-minute strike after 65 minutes, although it also needed the double introduction of Samir Nasri and David Silva to spark City into life.

Wednesday remained well organised and went close to securing a replay but Milner was in the right place in the first minute of injury time to turn in a Jesus Navas cross.

Milner said: “The manager changed it at half-time and asked me to go through the middle and it seemed to work, so good decision from him. It’s just nice that he’s asked me to go up there and I’ve managed to do a job.

“It’s a bit different but I played there when I was a bit younger and I think it is just about understanding the role.

“Sometimes it is about occupying the centre-halves and giving the likes of Samir and David and Yaya (Toure) a bit more room to get in the holes and get on the ball.

“If someone can do that, with their ability they are going to cause all sorts of problems.”

City had been expected to cruise through against opponents they thrashed 7-0 when they met in the Capital One Cup in September.

It proved a tough encounter for what was, despite six changes, a strong City side but Milner was just pleased to get the job done.

He said: “We didn’t play well at all but the FA Cup is about getting results and we managed to do that.

“We were under no illusions it was going to be a tough game, but we were coming off the run of a lot of games. It is nice to have a free week now.”

Published: Monday 5th January 2015 by The News Editor

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