Manchester City: James Milner Rates Title Hopes Ahead of His Own Playing Time

Christopher Hall@@chriscospinsAnalyst IApril 27, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 31:   James Milner of Manchester City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on March 31, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The biggest match of Manchester City's season is coming up on Monday, and James Milner is likely to start it firmly stuck to the substitute's bench.

City manager Roberto Mancini has chosen Milner to start just 17 league matches this term. That's more than a quarter less than last season and less than half the starts Milner enjoyed during his last season at Aston Villa.

But the England international is taking it in stride and publicly putting the team ahead of himself.

Milner told The Daily Mirror, "It's frustrating, because you want to play every game... but the most important thing is winning matches. It's not about individuals... I'll keep working hard and contribute as much as I can."

If City can beat Manchester United in Monday's derby at the Etihad, they will go even on points with the Red Devils.

But City's superior goal differential means they would take the Premier League lead for the first time in a month.

The two managers have taken markedly different approaches to the match. Mancini is downplaying his team's title chances, telling reporters they "have no chance to win [the championship]" after last Sunday's City victory at Wolverhampton.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is putting slightly more emphasis on the game. After his team's draw with Everton at the weekend, he said Monday's match against City will be "the most important derby game in [his time at United]."

For Milner's part, he'll just be hoping to get on the pitch.