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Neil Critchley on James Milner’s Role in U23 FA Cup Victory

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It turns out James Milner’s idea of a holiday is less beach and more football. We probably shouldn’t be surprised.

Liverpool FC v Shrewsbury Town - FA Cup Fourth Round: Replay Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

With the senior players off on their mid-season break, Liverpool fielded a U23 side against Shrewsbury in their FA Cup fourth round replay last night, but there was at least one veteran first team star involved, with James Milner determined to play a supporting role.

Though not many Liverpool fans will have seen it live given the FA’s decision not to produce a feed of the match or to allow it to be televised live in England, stories of his involvement began to emerge following the final whistle.

“He asked to train with us yesterday and if he could come along and come in the dressing room to speak,” noted U23 boss Neil Critchley. “To have someone like him, who’s achieved so much in the game because of who he is, giving words of advice to the players and being genuinely excited for the young boys, I can’t thank him enough.”

There are no reports as to whether Milner then left to take his holiday like the rest of Liverpool’s first team and manager Jürgen Klopp already had or if he stuck around at Anfield for a training session or late night lactate test.

Regardless, it was heartening to see Milner there, doing his bit to support Liverpool’s young, stand-in first team even if he couldn’t play. And it points to a potential future in coaching for the versatile veteran—though that will have to wait for his retirement as a player, which might not happen for some time yet.

“I don’t think he’s ready for that moment just yet” Critchley added when asked if there could be a coaching role in Milner’s future. “He was jumping up and down behind me so I think he was desperate to get on.”