Milner wary of Balotelli
James Milner has admitted that Mario Balotelli is a 'special talent' who will pose a threat to England in Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final.
Last Updated: 21/06/12 8:36am
James Milner has admitted that Mario Balotelli is a 'special talent' who will pose a threat to England in Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final, but he expects Joleon Lescott to win the battle with his Manchester City team-mate.
England midfielder Milner knows all about Balotelli's qualities and watched him come off the bench to score Italy's second goal in Monday's 2-0 win over Republic of Ireland.
He says Balotelli can be in a very different mood from one day to the next, but believes the striker will be raring to go against the Three Lions in Kiev.
However, Milner has confidence in Lescott, who has impressed alongside John Terry during the three group matches to date.
"We've seen Mario, he is a different player, he's going to cause you problems. He is very strong, shooting-wise he can cause problems, he is tricky, a clever player as well," said Milner.
"He is a danger. There are two Marios. There is one who turns up sometimes in training and it is a bit cold and he is not too interested.
"The other time he really wants it, as I'm sure he will against England, and he is a special talent. He is a top player and we know that. I'm sure he will be at the top of his game."
Milner added: "We might give him a bit of banter and it was good to see him score Monday night but I think the boys at the back have been outstanding so far in this tournament.
"Joleon has been like that all season for City and now he is doing it for England as well.
"He knows Mario well. He trains with him every day and I'm sure he will keep him quiet."
Strengths and weaknesses
Lescott is also aware of what a difficult challenge lies ahead, acknowledging that Balotelli will also be trying to use his inside knowledge to gain an advantage.
"Coming up against Mario is obviously going to be a tough task. I know the quality he possesses," said Lescott.
"At any time he can create something out of nothing. He is quick, strong, can create something out of nothing, similar to the other world-class strikers in the tournament.
"I don't know if it is an advantage knowing his game so well. You could say the same thing about me.
"I'm sure there will be strengths and weaknesses we will be looking to exploit against each other."
Lescott insisted: "There won't be texts between us. We are here for different teams. We play together at club level but international level is totally different.
"I've watched Italy and he came on and changed the game against Ireland and got his goal.
"He got his goal and looked sharp but Italy is not made up of one player."