Mancini to make use of squad during winter break

England, AFP

NEWCASTLE–James Milner is likely to keep his place when Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini makes changes for Tuesday’s home match against Aston Villa after starring in a 3-1 victory away to Newcastle United. Sunday’s success at St James’ Park saw City go second in the Premier League, two points behind leaders and local rivals Manchester United. Although controversial striker Carlos Tevez scored twice it was the performance of England international Milner, who left Villa under a cloud last season, that caught Mancini’s eye. “He was fantastic. All our players did well, but he stood out.” Despite an impressive away win, which saw City revive their title challenge following a home defeat by Everton, Mancini made it clear the congested holiday fixture schedule would see him alter his expensively assembled side for the Villa match. “We have an incredible four games in ten days and we will make changes against Villa because we must recover in the 38 hours and that is not an easy thing to do,” he said. “All players must be ready to play that is why we have a strong squad.”

Villa supporters were furious with Milner over a move that earned him a huge pay rise and, as always, their traveling fans will make him a target for abuse at Eastlands on Tuesday. The match against Villa is followed by another home game against Blackpool, offering City a genuine chance to collect six points and head into 2011 as the leaders of the Premier League.