Klopp: Liverpool man ‘doesn’t like position’ but is too crucial

Date published: Saturday 2nd October 2021 10:29 - Matthew Stead

Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and James Milner

James Milner would prefer not to play at right-back but Jurgen Klopp says he will continue to sacrifice himself if it benefits Liverpool.

Milner is expected to deputise for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold against Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday, the Liverpool vice-captain having filled in at right-back previously.

While he has typically seen himself as more of a central midfielder, Milner featured at left-back throughout the 2016/17 season and has had stints at centre-forward and on either wing throughout his career.

Klopp admits that the 35-year-old is not particularly fond of playing at right-back, but hopes “he will appreciate the experience” in years to come.

“He doesn’t like the position but he plays it exceptionally well because he is a smart footballer and he likes to be involved,” said Klopp.

“That is why he always thought he had to play in the middle of the park but the way we play the right-back is quite influential and has a few possession opportunities to be influential in the game.

“So for the moment I think he thinks it is OK to play there.

“He is an important part of the squad, not only if he plays but in the dressing room he is an incredibly influential player.

“It is nice he can have these both things; being a real engine in a dressing room and on the pitch as well.

“I am really happy he has the opportunity to play these games and put in these performances because it shows his spectrum.

“He can do pretty much everything, play every position, and at one point after his career – hopefully in a few years – he will appreciate the experience.”

Milner could come up against Jack Grealish as the Manchester City forward continues his adjustment to life as a £100m footballer, but Liverpool manager Klopp is not concerned about that potential battle.

“Football is not a game any more where you should have these one v one challenges for a long time,” said Klopp.

“There are moments, seconds, but actually whoever plays there should be protected by at least two players in a fightback situation, that’s the centre-half, midfielder and a winger in an ideal world.

“Whoever plays there should not be afraid he will be alone for a long time against really good players.

“I don’t know who will play for City in this moment and I don’t think it makes too much sense to think about it. We have to defend as a unit.

“There will be moments when individual quality will shine on both sides and in the end hopefully it will be good enough for us.”

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