Liverpool midfielder James Milner has expressed his satisfaction with his current level of fitness after playing his first game of pre-season for the club, a 1-0 loss to Premier League rivals Chelsea.
The Reds vice-captain was speaking after the match at the Rose Bowl Arena in California and he declared that the result mattered little, insisting that attaining fitness is the most important thing for both him and his returning teammates.
“The result’s not really important in pre-season,” Milner told Liverpool’s official website.
“It’s about fitness first and foremost, getting the match practice in and putting things into the game that we’ve been working on in training.
“I can only speak for myself [but] I felt pretty good. I only played half an hour but I felt okay, so that’s pleasing.”
Milner was one of the many players on international duty this summer as he featured for England at Euro 2016. That meant the preparations for the upcoming 2016/17 season had to get underway without him as he was due some rest after the tournament held in France.
The former Manchester City man has only recently gotten back to action with the Liverpool squad but says he is not dragging his feet on his road to full fitness. The Englishman also believes that the returns of the other Reds who were on international duty will benefit the whole squad.
“I’ve been working hard in training and the rest of the boys have been [back] longer so they should be getting there as well.
“Everyone’s back now, Emre [Can]’s joined us again, so it’s nice to have a full contingent so we can get working and move forward.”
With Jürgen Klopp strengthening his squad ahead of his first full season in charge, Milner – like every other player at the club – faces a fresh challenge to earn himself a place in the German’s starting line-up and perhaps an even more important one, keeping it.
After a fairly impressive first season at Anfield, where he scored seven goals and laid on a further fourteen for his teammates, bettering that tally next season will be key to his chances and just in case you have doubts over his ability, I’ll leave you with the reminder that the 30-year-old has in fact done well in the past when playing in a team full of stars.