Jurgen Klopp feels James Milner set an excellent example for Liverpool’s youth with his impressive performance in their 2-0 Carabao Cup win against MK Dons.
Milner was the most experienced figure in a side split between established players and academy graduates.
And he underlined that there would be no changing of the guard just yet with a goal (albeit fortuitous) and an assist.
More generally, the 33-year-old was a constant attacking outlet down the left-hand side for his team.
And Klopp was effusive in his post-match praise.
“This man is on fire, that’s how it is,” he said in his press conference. “It helps a lot. He’s a real role model for young players.
“If he could play every day, Millie would be like this every day, that’s how it is. Absolutely brilliant.”
Perhaps a close second to Milner in the man of the match stakes was 16-year-old debutant Harvey Elliott.
Elliott turned in a remarkably assured performance and was arguably unfortunate not to bag a couple of goals, twice hitting the crossbar, and an assist, with Milner sending his inch-perfect cross just past the post.
Klopp was pleased that, rather than only showing flashes of his talent, Elliott shone in his ‘overall performance’.
“16 years old still and this kind of football is good, really good for us,” the boss said. “Brilliant boy, takes the situation really well, wants to learn.
“Tonight, he will always be a special player for moments, but his overall performance when you see him defending, when you see his movements are so smart, it’s not easy to outplay him.
“That’s really, really good and his left foot is not too bad. A bit unlucky, otherwise he would have scored.
“Good player. They are all good, we don’t have bad young players, to be honest. They are all really skilled, so that’s why it’s so important we can give them these matches. We will try to continue like this. We will see.
Finally, Klopp was asked for his verdict on Naby Keita’s return to action.
The midfielder, playing his first football since the Community Shield, got 60 valuable minutes under his belt at Stadium MK.
Klopp thinks it will take time for Keita to readjust, intriguingly placing him in the same bracket as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“Obviously he looked good in moments, he looked really good in moments, but he has to adapt to the position again,” he explained.
“You see it with Ox as well. Naturally you move much more and stuff like this, you find each other much more, but that’s how it is.
“He was out for a while, but in moments you saw what an incredible player he is and how important he will be for us.
“We don’t have to rush it now hopefully, but we can use him now and that’s good, good for us. There’s a long season to go and everything will be fine.”