x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

James Milner expects Manchester City to push on

The Manchester City midfielder expects the Premier League leaders to maintain their excellent start to the season.

James Milner is confident that off the field distractions will not stop Manchester City from continuing their excellent start to the season that has seen them open up a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

After helping England overcome Sweden 1-0 at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night, it is back to club business for Milner on Saturday when they host Newcastle United, at Etihad Stadium.

Yet the attraction of a clash between the top flight's last unbeaten teams has been diluted somewhat by the continuing saga involving Carlos Tevez, who is still to indicate when he is likely to return to Manchester after heading back to Argentina without permission last week.

The whole issue is becoming tiresome for Milner, who just wants he and his teammates to concentrate on helping City consolidate their position at the Premier League summit.

"As a team, we just keep moving forward," he said.

"There always seems to be things going on off the field at Manchester City and people wanting to knock you down with distractions. All we can do is concentrate on what we're there to do and that's play football and work hard in training."

Having maintained a 100 per cent record on home soil so far, City will approach the contest in confident mood.

However, it promises to be the start of a pivotal period for the side. Immediately after the Newcastle encounter comes a trip to Naples in Italy that will almost certainly determine whether City make it into the Champions League group phase as they face Napoli.

How the Blues emerge from that will say much about their ability to maintain present high levels of performance, and Milner is aware Newcastle cannot be taken lightly.

"They have started the season very well," he said. "I don't think many people expected it because there have been a lot of changes up there. But, all credit to them, they're playing really well.

Meanwhile, City are hopeful of extending winger Adam Johnson's stay at Eastlands, with both parties close to agreeing a deal that will tie him to the club until 2015.