Jurgen Klopp says James Milner isn’t a fan of playing at right-back. The 35-year-old may find himself there on Sunday against Manchester City, however.
Trent Alexander-Arnold won’t face Manchester City at Anfield – we know that much. What isn’t clear is who replaces him.
Klopp says he has three remaining right-back options and it’s just about choosing the best one. We could see Neco Williams slot in, for instance, or Joe Gomez could shift across from centre-back.
Perhaps the most obvious choice for right-back is James Milner, however. He did very well there against Crystal Palace as he kept Wilfried Zaha pretty quiet.
Milner then put in a solid performance in Porto last Tuesday as he contributed to the 5-1 win. He even set up the second goal right before half-time with an excellent cross.
There’s really only one major problem – Milner doesn’t like playing there. That’s how Jurgen Klopp sees it, certainly.
James Milner doesn’t like right-back
“He doesn’t like the position, but he plays it really exceptionally well because he’s a smart footballer and he likes to be involved in the game,” said Klopp, per Liverpoolfc.com.
“That’s why he always thought he had to play in the middle of the park, but with the way we play, the right-back is quite influential, has quite a lot of possession, opportunities to be influential in the game and stuff like this, so in the moment I think he thinks it’s OK to play there.”
Moving around to cover absences has been a hallmark of Milner’s time with Liverpool. He spent an entire season at left-back, for instance, before Andy Robertson arrived.
And Klopp couldn’t be happier with that trait.
“He can do pretty much everything, he can play each position and it’s really nice,” said the boss.
Milner deserves nothing but praise for so consistently playing in positions he doesn’t actually enjoy. He’ll truly sacrifice his own game for the benefit of the team and we’ve seen him do it time and time again.
Doing it against a team like Manchester City is on another level, too. They’ll make your day difficult even at your best – let alone when you’re in an uncomfortable role.
But we can all trust Milner to not only move into the right-back spot but to do it well, too. He’d be our pick for the role and has all the trust in the world.