James Milner is backing Manchester City team-mate Joleon Lescott to fill the gap left in the England squad by Dronfield-born Gary Cahill and Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawals in the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
Lescott was one of England’s most successful performers at the Euro 2012 finals only to then receive limited opportunities at City during the current campaign.
But Milner has no doubts Lescott will be ready for the games ahead which will have a big bearing on whether Roy Hodgson’s side can book a spot in Brazil in 15 months time.
He said: “Joleon hasn’t played loads of games for City this year but when he has done, he has played well.
“He had a great season last year, a great Euro 2012 and he will be full of confidence and ready to go.
“I don’t think we will be affected by the withdrawals (of Ferdinand, Cahill and Michael Dawson).
“Joleon has now come in, has played a lot of games for England and is a top player as well. I see him day in and day out, the work he puts in at the gym, keeping himself right, his work with the fitness and physio guys before training.
“Whether he is playing or not, he is always ready to go. With the attitude and the professional he is, whenever he has played for City this year, he has been top notch and will be ready for Friday.”
Milner has also been reunited with another defender called up in Newcastle’s Steven Taylor, whom he played with at club level and at England youth level.
He said of the 27-year-old: “He is a bit mad! He will be a bit quieter this week because he is new and will be figuring things out. I’m sure as he gets more comfortable, he will be having a joke and a bit of banter as he normally does.”