James Milner is content to put his club future on hold until after the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, but admits he does not know if he will still be at Aston Villa next season.
The 24-year-old insists he is focused 100 per cent on helping England achieve glory this summer. However, the attacking midfielder is in demand after an outstanding campaign, with Manchester City tabling a £20m bid for him yesterday that was instantly rejected by Villa.
Milner has two years remaining of his current deal at Villa Park, which he signed when he made a club record £12m switch from Newcastle United two years ago. He is due to hold talks over a new contract but is adamant his priority is helping Fabio Capello's side in South Africa, assuming he is part of the final 23-man squad.
"Do I expect to be at Villa next season? I don't know," Milner said. "I've worked as hard as I can and concentrated on club football while the season has been on. Now it has finished, I'm focusing on England, and that's the only thing I am focusing on.
"The speculation about my own future is not distracting. There are always going to be rumours about every player in every club when the transfer window opens. To be linked with any clubs is flattering but I'm just concentrating on England at this time.
"The season finished at Villa a week and a bit ago and we all said we would discuss it (my future) after the World Cup. I've enjoyed my time at Aston Villa, it's a good club, we've had a lot of success this season, came close in two competitions, and we are moving forward."
Capello recently described Milner as "the future" for England, and he has made great strides this season at Villa after being switched into a central midfield role by manager Martin O'Neill. But the PFA Young Player Of The Year is determined not to rest on his laurels.
"It is nice to hear praise from any manager, but it is then down to you to prove that correct and drive on again and try and improve again," he said. "You can't stand still, especially with the competition that is about. You just want to become the best player possible and do as well as you can every time you train or play a game.
"Have I improved? You would like to think you've improved every season and I am lucky enough to be working at a good club with a great manager and staff, and some very good players. There are some very good players here with England and, if you can't learn anything from playing with those sort of players, you are going to struggle. I'll just keep playing as well as I can and hopefully force my way into the 23."
Milner is the most capped player for England at U-21 level, but knows the FIFA World Cup will be an extra step up. "The World Cup is the biggest competition you can play in," said the former Leeds United player. "The whole world is watching.
"As a player, you want to play against the best players, test yourself, and play in the best tournaments, whether its the Champions League or World Cups. Every player is desperate to get on the plane to South Africa and prove themselves on the biggest stage."
Milner poses a biggest threat as an attack-minded midfielder, but is ready to drop anchor and fill the void left by the more defensive-orientated Gareth Barry if his former Villa team-mate is ruled out through injury. "Whether there is a role for me in place of Gareth is down to the manager," he said.
"If he asks me to play there, I'll be prepared to play there. I've played there most of the season. I'm happy there, there is no difference to playing there than with your club. I'll be happy to play there."