James Milner’s season-long loan with Aston Villa has been hailed a big success ahead of Saturday’s home encounter with his long term-employers, the managerless Newcastle.
Milner arrived at Villa Park for the 2005-2006 campaign as part of the deal which saw Nolberto Solano head in the opposite direction for a second spell with the Magpies.
The England Under-21 winger, who cannot play on Saturday as part of the agreement between the clubs, has quickly become a favourite with the Villa fans.
Villa assistant manager Roy Aitken, who worked with Milner at Leeds, said: “Nobby (Solano) and James are different types of players.
“Everyone knows about Nobby from a creative point of view. James has got the industry but, with the experience he is getting, he is also showing his quality as well on the ball.
“He is creating things and that is something that will come in his game as he gets more experience, knowing when to take up positions.
“James’ strength is working that right side and wide midfield players nowadays have got to be creative – but also come back and help out defensively. Both he and Gareth Barry on the left flank do that for us.”
Milner has also impressed Aitken with his willingness to listen and learn.
Aitken said: “James is another one, like Steven Davis, in the sense that he listens to what we tell him. As coaches, it’s like giving the players the tools to work with.
“They take on board what we tell them and their own experience then enables them to adapt. James has shown that as well this year.
“James listens and learns. We don’t make him a player. He makes himself a player and he was always a talent as a 15 to 16-year-old.
“He played a lot of times for me in the youth and reserve sides at Leeds so I do know his qualities.”