Brendan Rodgers has lavished praise on midfielder James Milner, after the experienced midfielder scored the winning goal in Liverpool’s pre-season victory over Brisbane Roar.
The two teams were locked at 1-1 with 15 minutes remaining, after Adam Lallana had cancelled out the hosts’ opener, but there was still time for Milner to score his first goal for the club and ensure we retained our perfect start to our pre-season campaign.
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Our Australian opponents proved to be a much sterner test than the Thai All-Stars did on Tuesday, when Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Lazar Markovic, Mamadou Sakho, Lallana and Divock Origi.
However, it was the new signings who shone today, much to the delight of Rodgers. Joe Gomez and Nathaniel Clyne impressed in the full-back positions, while Danny Ings put in a workmanlike performance up front.
Milner’s efforts particularly pleased Rodgers, who like our supporters will no doubt be impressed by the partnership the former Manchester City man has already struck up with club captain Jordan Henderson.
“He and Jordan Henderson could run to Adelaide,” Rodgers said of Milner. “The work they put into a game, how they press, how they run, but also the quality. We wanted more goals from midfield and you see James, that was the idea because when he plays in a central area he can really penetrate the box.
“He got in a number of times, had a couple of shots that went close and then he got his goal. He’s a top-class operator and I think playing in this team and at Liverpool he’ll probably shine even more.”
Milner was used in a variety of different positions during his time at City and Rodgers thinks the player will benefit from being consistently used in his most natural role.
Rodgers continued: “Players will always have a favourite position. Sometimes when you’re such a great professional, you can get moved about; it’s an attribute that is good to have as a player.
“But every player will want to play in their main position and James probably suffered a little bit from being such a good player and such a good footballer.
“He has played at right-back, wide on the left, wide on the right, as a striker, a midfield player. You always want players like that in your squad, but as a player you want to play in your favourite position.
“Probably the best season James ever had was at Aston Villa playing as a central midfield player. He’s going to be huge for us and working close at hand with him I can see why he’s regarded as a top-class professional.”
Rodgers also praised both our full-backs, who got forward well to support the attacking players and brought some much needed width to an otherwise narrow midfield.
He said: “Look at how Clyne presses the game and gets tight; Gomez at left-back gets up to people, same as when he plays centre-half; you’ve got a midfield again that can go and press and get up to the ball.
“We still have bits to work on, the dynamic and co-ordination of all of that. But you have started to see signs in these couple of games that we’re starting to return to that level.”