Manchester City must deal with the threat of Southampton’s England World Cup hopefuls when they travel to the Etihad on Saturday, according to James Milner.
Milner, who is likely to be included in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man selection for Brazil, knows that the likes of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez are all playing for a spot on the plane.
The Blues have only lost once at home since the New Year but Milner is wary of facing an in-form Saints side who could damage his team’s title hopes, with City in third and four points behind leaders Liverpool though with two games in hand and a superior goal difference.
“They have a good squad with some great English talent who are all looking to book a place in the World Cup squad so they have plenty to play for,” the 28-year-old told the club website.
“It isn’t going to be an easy game and the fact they’ve only been in the Premier League for a short space of time shows how far the club have come and that’s credit to the management and the players.
“We know what we need to do in the games that remain and while everyone is looking ahead to our game against Liverpool, the fact is we have a lot of hard games still to come, including this one.”
Sergio Aguero could feature off the bench to boost the home side, but Milner knows the Citizens have to keep their focus despite facing free-flowing Southampton, who put four past Newcastle last time out and are pressuring Manchester United for the final European spot.
“They are playing with freedom at the moment and because of their position in the table, there isn’t really any pressure on them,” he said.
“It’s an old cliché but we really do need to take each game as it comes. We don’t feel any pressure because we have two games in hand, both of which are at home.
“There are games left for all the leading clubs that look very winnable, but the pressure will tell and I think there will be plenty of twists along the way as Crystal Palace proved last weekend. We’ve been there before and done it so we know what to expect.”
Main image courtesy of Manchester City FC via YouTube, with thanks.