James Milner withdrew from the England squad last week in the hopes he could get back to 100% fitness ahead of Liverpool's clash with Manchester City on Saturday, and the midfielder believes he is now well on the way to meeting that target. Last summer's big free agent signing also believes he has room to improve.
"You can always learn, whetehr you are 16 or 17 or whether you are 29," the midfielder told the club's official website today. "That's football, and the manager will still be learning himself. Obviously he has come in with new ideas, new training methods and things like that, so it's great for me as much as it is the younger guys."
Milner has been a hard and willing worker since arriving at Anfield, but three months into his Liverpool career there are more than a few questions about whether you really can teach a veteran football player new tricks. Or at least a new position, as he has largely struggled to succeed in his desired transition into central midfield.
Having spent most of his career in wider areas and as something of a utility man, setting up at the base of midfield week in and week out has exposed deficiencies in Milner's reading of the game without the ball. Still, his time at City proved what a quality player Milner can be, and the one certainty is that he will keep working.
"Hopefully I can help the younger guys, but I'm still learning myself," he continued. "Changing managers is always different, and I'm still learning the ways [Jürgen Klopp] wants me to play. I've been fortunate to work under some great managers, and he is another of the top managers in the game. I'll learn as much as I can."
That probably won't happen overnight for Milner, but what the stand-in captain is hoping for in the immediate future is to see the team bounce back from the first loss since Klopp arrived at the club. Liverpool showed what they can do at their best a week earlier against Chelsea, and Milner wants a quick return and a big win.
"I think we've said it all season everything is there for us," Milner added. "We were on a good run before last weekend, so it's important we get back on that and take belief from the results we've had. Not many teams play like we did against Chelsea, so we know we can do it. It's about doing it more consistently and pushing on."