James Milner 2010

James Milner believes Saturday's friendly international against Brazil in Doha will be the ideal yardstick to demonstrate whether England should be considered serious World Cup contenders next summer.

Fabio Capello's side qualified for the 2010 finals in South Africa in impressive fashion with two games to spare, and won nine of their qualifying matches.

Milner sees the clash with the former world champions as a chance to see how good England are in reality and the winger would dearly love for the game to be a dress rehearsal for the final in eight months' time.

The 23-year-old said: "This is a great preparation game. You obviously want to play the best teams before a major tournament.

"If I was lucky enough to get on the field against a team like Brazil it would be fantastic, but it is all preparation for the summer. There are not too many better teams to test yourself against, and see how ready you are for a World Cup, than playing Brazil.

"They have been fantastic over the years and it would be nice to play them in the final next summer."

Milner has forced his way into Capello's plans after showing excellent form for Aston Villa since his club record £12m switch from Newcastle 15 months ago, and he knows he must make every minute count for club and country if he is secure a seat on the plane to South Africa.

He said: "The World Cup is a long way away. It is a nice thing to have at the end of the domestic season and definitely something to aim for.

"I am not thinking about that too much at the moment. I am taking each game as it comes and playing as well as I can for Villa. That is what gets you into the England squad.

"I need to keep working hard, keep improving with Villa, and playing good football. I do believe every minute on the pitch is important, not just for England but week in and week out in the Premier League.

"You are playing against top-class players week in and week out. If you are lucky enough to get called into the England squad, and get the chance to get on the field, you've got to do well and prove that you should be chosen again. But then all the players want to keep improving and staking a claim to be in the squad."

Milner is delighted to have made the breakthrough at full level for his country and was even used as a left-back by Capello in the latter stages of the win over Belarus last month.

He said: "When you are working as hard as you can all the way through your career, and have played a lot of Under-21 games, to get the full caps is obviously nice.

He said: "When you are working as hard as you can all the way through your career, and have played a lot of Under-21 games, to get the full caps is obviously nice.

"It is your aim to play for England and now I've done that three or four times and the next aim is to stay in the squad and stay in the team. It's nice to move that goal on one more time and stepping up a level to keep getting in the squads and pushing for a place in the team.

"I don't think it adds to my confidence. It might change the way other people feel about you but obviously you've got that self-belief and confidence in your ability."


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