Garth Crooks admits he has sympathy for Nathaniel Clyne having to compete with the versatility that Liverpool boast throughout their squad.
The right-back made his first Premier League appearance of the season in the recent 3-1 win over Manchester United as he filled in for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Despite managing an impressing 90 minutes, the Englishman was unable to retain his starting spot for Friday’s 2-0 victory away to Wolves.
Instead, Jurgen Klopp put his faith in the trusted flexibility of James Milner by deploying him as a make-shift full-back.
To nobody’s surprise, the Reds’ vice-captain flourished in the unfamiliar role to remind his teammates of the need to be at their best.
Discussing Milner’s inclusion in his BBC Sport Team of the Week, Crooks said: “I felt sorry for Nathaniel Clyne. When a manager has a player like James Milner, who can play in a variety of positions, everyone else in the team has to be on the top of their game.”
“Milner came in for Clyne against Wolves and was as dependable and as solid as you would expect from one of the most experienced players in the country. He is still in my top three contenders for Footballer of the Year.”
It remains to be seen who Klopp turns to when the league leaders continue their title charge at home to Newcastle on Boxing Day.
The German’s festive tendency to rotate his team as a means of preserving fitness means Clyne may well be in contention to return to the starting lineup.
Liverpool have meanwhile been boosted by Alexander-Arnold’s return to training following his ankle injury in the decisive 1-0 Champions League win over Napoli earlier this month.