James Milner has undeniably been one of Liverpool’s standout performers so far this term, perhaps because of his decision in the summer to retire from international duty.
He’s scored four Premier League goals, registered an assist and been ever present since missing the first match against Arsenal injured.
He’s adapted to left-back instantly, more impressive when you consider he’s in this thirties and has never played there before. However, due to Liverpool’s tactics, Milner’s regularly in the final third and is involved in most attacks, too.
The England fan on the street wasn’t too disappointed when Milner hung up his international boots, because he was usually a utility substitute – but the fact he’s staying at Melwood during the breaks is giving the player and Liverpool a boost.
“It’s obviously different. It’s a new phase for me in my career. I don’t have a rest, if that’s what people think, the manager works us hard when we’re here,” Milner told Liverpoolfc.com.
“To concentrate on Liverpool is obviously the big thing for me now. We had a game in the [previous] international break to keep us ticking over. I felt pretty fresh going into the next round of fixtures after the international break.
“I had done it for a lot of years, going away with the national team and coming back – and sometimes it was quite tough when you had been travelling, had a couple of days and were back into the fixtures.
“You don’t really get that break. For me personally and hopefully Liverpool, it can be a positive thing that you do feel fresher after the internationals.”
“Although we’re training hard here, you get the odd day off here and there, so that helps. [It’s] just that mental break as well I think – the travelling and being in that competitive mode every three days for a full season,” he added.
“I don’t think you feel it at the time but sometimes when you step out of that or maybe at the end of the season when you feel how you feel then – a bit more refreshed – you think ‘How have I been in that mode?’
“Whereas with the international break, it’s 10 days where I don’t have a competitive fixture to worry about. It just gives you that bit of respite.
“You’re obviously training hard, but you have heard so many people talk about it prolonging their club careers – and it’s not only a physical thing, I think it’s a mental thing in giving you that time to switch off and feel fully refreshed.
“Saying that, representing your country is a massive thing and something I always thoroughly enjoyed and did with great honour.”
Interestingly, Milner may be switched to right-back after the international break because Nathaniel Clyne is currently crocked. This means Alberto Moreno will likely come in at left-back, a potentially worrying scenario considering Manchester United are visiting Anfield next.