Milner applauds Villa’s squad depth

Villa are currently fourth in the Premier League table after a run

of three successive victories, which included away wins over

Manchester United and Sunderland.

They looked well place to challenge for a Champions League

spot last term before a miserable run of form after the turn of the

year saw them slip out of contention.

But Milner, who has switched from his usual wide role to

central midfield in recent weeks with great success, believes

O’Neill now has a much stronger squad at his disposal.

Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham all have realistic

ambitions of breaking the established order in the top flight, with

Liverpool looking particularly vulnerable and Arsenal hit by

injuries and showing inconsistency.

“We were in a great position this time last year and we know

what happened, but it’s about learning from that and I think we

have done,” the England international said.

“We had the quality, but now the squad has a bit more depth.

“If you look at our bench and see players like Carew, Sidwell

and Reo-Coker there, it shows there is fantastic competition for

places and that’s exactly what we need.

“They’re all pushing for places, but everyone is contributing

massively.

“It’s great having Emile Heskey back who is showing what a

top striker he is, while Richard Dunne has been brilliant since he

came in.”

Milner scored a stunning goal in the victory over the Black

Cats at the Stadium of Light and took greater pleasure from

defeating Steve Bruce’s side than their shock success against the

champions.

He added: “Sunderland wasn’t our best performance by any

means, but the result is probably even more satisfying than winning

at Old Trafford and hopefully we can keep it going.

“This is a vital period because you look at the table before

Christmas and then afterwards and a lot can change.”