Having just arrived at Anfield over the summer, James Milner never expected his role as vice-captain to lead to him wearing the armband for three months. Not when Liverpool's captain was Jordan Henderson, a man who rarely missed a minute. A foot injury for Henderson, though, has led to an elevated role for Milner.
While Milner has been happy to take on the added responsibility, he was just as happy to hand the armband back over to Henderson when the midfielder returned to action on Sunday against Swansea City. It wasn't just Henderson's return that had Milner sounding pleased after the match, with Daniel Sturridge also making his latest return to action.
"It's amazing to see those two back," the vice captain told the club's official website following Sunday's 1-0 victory. "They're top players. Any team in the league would miss them, so to get them back is great. It's a great honour for me to wear the armband but I'm delighted I've passed it on to Jordan because it means he's back in the team."
Neither Henderson nor Sturridge was able to make much of an impact in their second half cameos, but the key for both will be gaining match fitness ahead of a busy December stretch that will ask a lot of Liverpool's squad depth. Having both available will be key to Liverpool's chances, with two games a week from now through to the new year.
"We're coming into a busy period now in good form," said Milner. "There are so many games over Christmas, the league table changes a lot over that period, and hopefully it changes for the better and we keep moving up, working hard, and improving. Hopefully those two can stay fit."