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Football | Barclays Premier League

Silverware only measure of success for Milner

James Milner believes Manchester City have to repay their loyal supporters by continuing to bring in trophies as he nears a return to action ahead of the Premier League match at home to his former club, Aston Villa, on Saturday.

Roberto Mancini's men will be looking for three points to keep on the tails of league leaders and rivals Manchester United, while City also welcome Real Madrid to Eastlands on Wednesday for a must-win Champions League group tie.

Some critics have suggested that winning the Premier League last season has quashed some of City’s desire to lift trophies as they face a second-successive group exit from the Champions League unless they beat Real next week to keep their slim hopes alive.

But Milner, who thanked fans for their backing while he has been out injured, believes the onus is on City to keep rewarding loyal supporters who backed the club through its more unsuccessful days, and that is what keeps driving them.

"I just want to go out and play as well as I can for City and our supporters and hopefully keep the trophies coming," Milner said.

"Our fans turn out in big numbers whether it’s at home where the games are always sold out – or away and overseas where they always travel in their thousands, so we want to do the best we can for them and repay that backing.

"They were here when we weren’t winning things for so many years, so it's nice we are now and as I say, that’s not a feeling we could ever get tired of."

The England international has missed City’s last four games owing to a combination of a one-game suspension following a red card and then a hamstring injury suffered in the warm-up before their clash with West Ham.

Milner revealed he is now in full training and could face Aston Villa ahead of a big week for the Premier League champions.

"I've been progressing well and I'm back training so I'm hoping to be available for Villa," he said. "My hamstring was a little tight before the game at West Ham and hadn't felt quite right in the days leading up to the game.

"I'd had some treatment because it happens from time to time – then you play and it's OK, but I went to do a sprint in the warm-up, it didn't feel right and I made the decision not to carry on which I think has been proved correct.

"If I'd have played, it would have probably gone during the game and I could have been out for a lot longer. As it was, it was just ten days or so before I started light training again and now everything feels fine."

Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke is hoping to earn the bragging rights over Belgium international teammate Vincent Kompany again.

The 21-year-old helped his side to a 4-2 victory over City in a League Cup encounter in September and is relishing the prospect of facing his compatriot in the Premier League.

"It will be good to come up against Vincent Kompany, who I play with for Belgium," said Benteke.

"He is a brilliant central defender, one of the very best in the Premier League. I am looking forward to playing against him. There won’t be any texting before the game though. I am focused on the game for Villa."

However, Benteke insists his side will not be thinking back to their League Cup triumph to motivate themselves for the game.

"The cup tie won't have any bearing on this match," he said. "In football, you have to concentrate on the present – not the past or the future.

"All you can affect is the present moment. We are totally focusing on this match, not looking back at the cup win.

"We are motivated for every game. It doesn't matter whether it's Manchester United, Manchester City, anyone, we are going out to try and get a good result.


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