Jurgen Klopp confirmed on Tuesday that vice-captain James Milner is expected to miss Wednesday’s trip to Arsenal following an on-going muscle issue.
Despite missing the trip to the capital, the 34-year-old could still feature in Liverpool’s final home fixture of the season against Chelsea, where the English champions will be presented the Premier League trophy.
“Millie is in contention, or is pretty safe, for the Chelsea game,” Klopp told his pre-match press conference yesterday afternoon.
“Nobody told me yet that he would be available tomorrow and he didn’t train yesterday, but he will be fine for Chelsea I’m pretty sure.
“Apart from that, no new injuries on the list. We should have the same squad like we had for the Burnley game.”
Milner has clocked up just 53 minutes of first-team action since Project Restart commenced last month.
70 training photos were released on Monday afternoon following the champions’ session at Melwood.
Milner was not pictured in a single one. Indeed, he could have been in the gym continuing his rehabilitation rather than on the pitch with his teammates, but his lack of involvement suggests perhaps is still some way off being ready to take to the pitch.
Play the long game
It isn’t the first lingering injury concern Milner has had to battle this season. The former Manchester City star was sidelined for nearly three months following an ongoing hamstring problem from November to February.
In fact, Milner has only started six Premier League fixtures this season, which is his worst return in the team since signing on a free transfer in 2015.
While age could be a factor, Milner has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he is one of the fittest and durable members in the team. In pre-season, it is Milner who continues to dominate the fitness tests at Melwood which suggests that the Englishman may have just not had luck on his side this term.
His Liverpool contract was recently extended to 2022 (BBC) which would suggest that Klopp may not risk using one his most trusted generals until the season concludes considering the club’s main aspirations this campaign have already been met.
Milner – who earns £140k-a-week according to Spotrac – is the most experienced player in Liverpool’s squad meaning it is likely Klopp will look to other options in midfield such as Curtis Jones and Naby Keita when considering his selection process in the team’s final three matches.
Following the impact of the global pandemic, Liverpool’s 2020/21 title defence is just around the corner and will be with us sooner rather than later, the club need to play the long game and be sensible about not risking Milner in the final weeks of the season.
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