For a young man of only 20 years of age, James Milner has packed a lot into his short footballing life.

It was only yesterday that the Aston Villa and England Under-21 winger left his teenage years behind. Already he has clocked up well over 100 appearances, the vast majority of which have come in the Premier-ship, for four teams and eight managers.

The eighth of them, David O'Leary, already rates Milner - he tried to sign him on becoming Villa manager twoand-a-half years ago - as one of his best pieces of transfer business.

But nothing that the York-shireman has achieved against such a distracting background in the last 18 months has gone unnoticed by the other man in his life... Peter Taylor.

This Saturday, when Villa visit the KC Stadium to play Hull City in the FA Cup, Milner has the chance to take on th club team of his England Under-21 manager.

Milner said: "I rate Peter Taylor as an excellent manager with really good ideas. It's difficult for him, with the two jobs to do, but he's got a fantastic record at that level.

"We were unlucky not to qualify for the European Championship finals and could easily have gone all the way. He's been there a long time and I've enjoyed working with him.

"He changes his teams well and rotates his squads and has some great ideas. It's good working on the training ground with him. He makes you think. You know you're not going to go away feeling down after a training session with him.

"It's always good fun, you enjoy it and you have a good team spirit when you go away with the Under-21s.

"That is important when you don't know each other that well and you're together for only a short amount of time, but it's Peter Taylor who helps us achieve that."

Milner had won his first cap in March 2004 under David Platt before Taylor returned to take control of the Under-21s in July 2004, on the same day that Milner left Leeds United for Newcastle United.

But the Hull manager has since been responsible for Milner taking his tally of caps to 15. With a season-and-a-half at this level still to come, he has the potential to break the England Under-21 appearance record of 27 caps, held by Liverpool's Jamie Carragher and Milner's own current team-mate, Villa's Gareth Barry.

He also nurtures longer-term international ambitions, saying: "Most footballers my age want to play for their country in the World Cup and I'm no different. Some of the Villa lads are going to the finals, Olof Mellberg with Sweden, Milan Baros with the Czech Republic and Ulises De La Cruz for Ecuador. Of course, I'm envious but the thing to do is keep putting it in, for Villa and the Under-21s, to try to force your way in."

Of far more short-term importance to Milner, though, is Saturday's chance for atonement.

Like all the Villa team who lost 3-0 to Doncaster Rovers in the Carling Cup a month ago, Milner wants to put things right in their next encounter with lower-division opposition.

He said: "It's hard to explain how we could lose 3-0 at Doncaster, then get three away draws and win at West Brom. But, although being drawn away to Hull is going to be a tough one, there is a determination here to atone for what happened at Doncaster and we would rather play there than have to go to Manchester United."

Although they will pass signs for Doncaster on the road to Hull, Villa and Milner go there in form.

Milner's form at Villa has taken the occasional slight dip, as is always the case with young players. Generally, he has gone from strength to strength. He has been consistent, hard-working and the lucky possessor of an internal motor his manager swears runs off Duracell batteries... a modern-day Steve Coppell, in fact.

But he is not short on skill, either, whichever wing he operates on. He was outstanding in Villa's 3-3 draw at Fulham last Wednesday night and the high-speed shuffle that bamboozled Martin Albrechtsen and set up Villa's first goal against West Bromwich Albion on Monday was worthy of George Best.

When Milner moved to Newcastle for £3.6 million, he became one of football's most expensive teenagers. Hard though it is to believe that his first moment of fame came three years ago, he can still outstrip Wayne Rooney on one front.

It was on Boxing Day 2002, at 16 years and 357 days old, when Milner replaced Rooney as the youngest scorer in Premiership history, having come on as a substitute for Leeds against Sunderland.

Milner's headline-making arrival in English football has not been matched since - his introduction into a Leeds side was made with the team beginning to implode after failing to hit the game's highspots under O'Leary and Peter Ridsdale.

O'Leary says it was on his say-so that Sir Bobby Robson signed Milner for Newcastle. Whether the player himself made the right choice is more open to debate.

Robson was dismissed seven weeks after signing him, to be replaced by Graeme Souness, but now, from the frustration of being only 18 and trying to impress a manager who had not signed him, Milner has shelved his Newcastle career for a season. He is starting to pull up trees once more with Villa and the only cloud on the horizon is the prospect of the club losing him in May.