Premier League

Keegan defends Milner sale

Toon boss insists winger exit will push club forward

Milner: Leaves St James' Park

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Kevin Keegan has defended the sale of James Milner to Aston Villa and insists the move will in time push Newcastle forward.

The popular 22-year-old has completed a move to the Midlands on a four-year deal, which is understood to have netted Newcastle in the region of £10million.

Keegan, who throughout Villa's courting of the player repeatedly expressed a desire to keep him at St James' Park, insists it was his decision to sanction the departure.

"He's a player, in an ideal world, you would not want to lose, but I just want to make it absolutely clear that at the end of the day, it was my decision to sell him," Keegan told Sky Sports News.

"We got an offer that I feel was his value. We are all aware James has had a difficult time - he almost signed for them once before and was dragged back.

"But he has always behaved impeccably. He's a fantastic professional, and there's no doubt about it, they've got an outstanding player and we have got to move on.

"While to the fans it might not look like a positive move at the moment, I think with what will happen in the next few days and in the future - most of the things will be positive.

"I've really enjoyed working with him and I sure Martin O'Neill will do to because you can't beat working with excellent professionals.

"I wouldn't have sold him if at the end of the day I didn't believe it would move the club forward.

"What has happened is right for everybody. The only thing that I can say is the lad has done nothing wrong, the fans shouldn't think that.

"He deserves the move that at the end of the day I think he wanted."

Positive meeting

Keegan met owner Mike Ashley and executive director (football) Dennis Wise during the week to discuss the club's ongoing transfer dealings and contract matters, and speculation since has suggested they were not in complete agreement, something the manager has swiftly denied.

"The owner is absolutely totally committed to the club. We had a great meeting. It's just a case of us getting the right players into the club.

"The secret is to pick the right ones. If you are going to let a good player go then it's crucial you replace him with quality and that's the challenge we have now. I look forward to it.

"So far, we haven't seen a massive influx of players into the club.

"But I don't think any Newcastle fan would argue that the ones we have fetched in they see as quality and see as the right sort of players for Newcastle United, players who care and players who are putting a shirt on and doing a good shift for the club.

"That will continue to be the way we look for players and if, because we can't get those sort of players, we don't fetch the volume in and a fair number, so be it."