Liverpool midfielder James Milner has been described as a “sensational professional” by his former manager Stuart Pearce, under whom he played for with the England under-21s.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Pearce commended the 33-year-old’s attitude and willingness to clock substantial running distances and adapt to any position where he is asked to play.
Pearce told talkSPORT [via Anfield Watch]: “He’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with. Three words that I would [use to] describe him: resilient, professional and relentless. I think that sums Milly up.
“He covers 12, 13 kilometres a game, so I think somewhere in the midfield three [is his position]. But if you asked him to play anywhere, he’d go on the pitch and play anywhere for you. Sensational professional.”
When analysing Milner’s Liverpool career as a whole, Pearce is correct to highlight the tremendous versatility of the Reds veteran.
This season, he has featured mostly as a central midfielder, where Pearce feels he is strongest, but he filled in at left-back in the Carabao Cup win at MK Dons last month, scoring one goal and setting up another that night. [via TransferMarkt]
In his 188 appearances for Liverpool, Milner has played across the full width of midfield, as well as in a defensive midfield role and in both full-back positions. [via TransferMarkt]
His adaptation to positions other than central midfield hasn’t purely been on a stop-gap basis, either – while he has featured in the centre of midfield 93 times, he has also played 42 times as a left-back, with the vast majority of those coming throughout the 2016/17 season. [via TransferMarkt]
The 33-year-old has also played right midfield 21 times for Liverpool and 12 times on the left-hand side of midfield, in addition to a brief spell at right-back during the first two months of 2019. [via TransferMarkt]
His ability to play in either full-back role in particular could yet prove crucial for the Reds this season, given their paucity of resources in those positions.
Andrew Robertson is the only senior left-back in Jurgen Klopp’s first team squad, while there is currently no senior right-back replacement for Trent Alexander-Arnold given the long-term injury to Nathaniel Clyne, although Joe Gomez has experience of playing in that position.
Milner has willingly adapted to a plethora of roles within this Liverpool team, as Pearce has rightfully stated.
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