James Collins has hailed the impact James Milner has made in the heart of Aston Villa's midfield.
The England winger was moved inside off the flanks by boss Martin O'Neill to help provide cover during an injury crisis.
However, the 24-year-old has shone in his new surroundings, becoming the driving force behind Villa's push for a top-four finish in the Premier League and a place in the Carling Cup final.
Collins believes Milner has now become as important to Villa's plans as any of the star names he rubs shoulders with while away on international duty.
"Is he turning into a figure like (Steven) Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard? Yes, he's been superb," said the Welsh centre-half.
"I knew about him before coming to Villa and now I've seen the quality. He is a very professional lad in the way he looks after himself, and I think it shows in the way he plays.
"He's in tremendous form, and being in the England squad is going to give him massive confidence, and he's showing that with us."
Milner, who has found the target five times in his last 11 appearances, admits he is enjoying his new-found responsibility and hopes his recent fine form will continue for the remainder of the season.
He said: "Obviously when you are playing wide you are always at an angle, and any chance you get in the middle is only a half chance out wide.
"Hopefully, I will get more goals in the middle, but as long as I'm contributing to the team that's the main thing.
"It's important you get goals all over the field. Gabby (Agbonlahor) has been in great form this year, John (Carew) is always going to get goals and Emile (Heskey) as well, but it's important we take a bit of pressure off our strikers.
"But I've always said I wanted to score more goals, and playing in the middle will allow me to do that."