When James Milner pulled up off the ball while holding his hamstring, many feared the worst. The 32-year-old had played a lot of football to start the season and had been key in the side’s early success, and a hamstring injury could mean months on the sidelines.
Reports today from journalists with ties to the club, including The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe and Echo’s James Pearce, suggest that at least it won’t be as bad as that and that the midfielder is only expected to be out for around a month as he heals from his injury.
With the international break taking up the next two weeks, that means Milner might in the end only miss four games before he’s back, possibly in time to play the club’s second game against Red Star Belgrade on November 6th or Fulham in the league on the 11th.
He will, however, be expected to miss Arsenal on November 3rd, a match he would have been a near lock to start in if fit. Still, it could have been a lot worse—both in terms of severity and duration as well as in terms of which games Milner was set to miss.
And it’s perhaps a warning that there needs to be more rotation moving forward in order to keep all Liverpool’s key players fit over the longer term. Alternately, it could just be a sign that Milner in particular, as the squad’s veteran stalwart, shouldn’t start every week.
Milner was one of Liverpool’s best players last season and to open this one, but managing his minutes and keeping him to one game a week most weeks when he does return might be in the best long-term interests of both club and player.