(Reuters) – Liverpool midfielder James Milner can be the ideal role model for the club’s young players after the 33-year-old shepherded them to a 2-0 League Cup win at MK Dons on Wednesday, manager Juergen Klopp has said.
Milner opened the scoring against the League One (third-tier) side for his first goal in the competition since 2010 and set up another for 17-year-old Dutchman Ki-Jana Hoever to draw praise from Klopp.
“This man is on fire, that’s how it is. It helps a lot. He’s a real role model for young players. If he could play every day, Millie would be like this every day… absolutely brilliant,” Klopp told a news conference.
“The most experienced and the player with the most rhythm was the best player on the pitch — Millie was pretty obvious… it’s so important that we still do these games, that we are brave enough to use the boys.
“We’re not here with this line-up because we don’t respect the competition, we are here to win the game, no other reason.”
Liverpool set up a clash with Arsenal in the fourth round and Klopp, who named four teenagers in his starting side, said youngsters would continue to get more opportunities.
“They all have the right environment so we will improve that environment as well, we will bring in more manpower there that we can really take care of these boys more,” Klopp added.
Milner welcomed the competition for places.
“When you look at how good our squad is, it’s not easy for the youngsters to get to the level they need to be, but they’ve shown they want to get better,” Milner said.
“Everyone is pushing and that’s what the senior boys need: competition for places.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)