x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Milner named in Aston Villa squad

Meanwhile, survival is the aim for Birmingham, Coyle backs Hughes for Fulham success and Beattie becomes a Ranger.

James Milner, the Aston Villa midfielder who is the subject of a possible move to Manchester City, has been named in caretaker-manager Kevin MacDonald's squad to play West Ham United. City are believed to be offering a player-plus-cash deal involving Stephen Ireland for the England midfielder. But MacDonald, in charge since the resignation of Martin O'Neill, said: "The latest about Milner is that talks are still ongoing. Nothing can be done in terms of him being signed in time to play [today]."

Alex McLeish, the Birmingham City manager, has taken stock of words from his Stoke City counterpart Tony Pulis. McLeish guided Birmingham to ninth spot last season, but Pulis claims staying up should be his main aim this time. McLeish, whose team travel to Sunderland today, said: "Just staying up sounds negative but we have got to be realistic at the club. We're not a surprise to anyone any more."

Owen Coyle, the Bolton Wanderers manager, expects Fulham and Mark Hughes to be a winning combination this season. Hughes, who replaced Roy Hodgson at Craven Cottage, has had only a fortnight to prepare, but Coyle, whose side host Fulham today, said: "There is no doubt that he'll mould that team the way he wants. Fulham will show everyone this season that they are a quality side."

After signing Kenwyne Jones from Sunderland for a club record fee, Stoke City off-loaded one of their forwards yesterday as James Beattie joined Glasgow Rangers, the Scottish giants. Stoke visit Wolverhampton Wanderers today, who finished 15th last season. Of their aim this time, Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said: "I want better than 15th. But come on, if we ended up 15th, 16th or 17th and stayed in the league, people would take it." * Agencies