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Milner might miss the Champions League final

By Prashanth Kumar Purshotam
James Milner

Bengaluru, May 14: In a major concern for Liverpool ahead of the UEFA Champions League against Real Madrid, James Milner has not trained all week.

Worryingly the ever-ready midfielder was not present for the final day rout against Brighton Albion. Liverpool were well stocked in the midfield at the beginning of the season, so much so that Milner was not even getting a sniff at the starting eleven.

However, times have drastically changed for Liverpool and injury to Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Emre Can has left Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson as the only fit midfielders for the Reds.

Marko Grujic is on loan to Cardiff and the only other midfielders available to Liverpool are academy players. Though Adam Lallana has returned to the first team with a 20 minute cameo in the last league game of the season, it would highly improbable to expect him to start against Madrid on May 26.

Klopp praises 'fantastic' leadership of Henderson and Milner
This conundrum prompted Jurgen Klopp to employ a midfield two and forward four against Brighton Albion. Wijnaldum and Henderson played at the base of the midfield and Mohamad Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane played as the attacking trio behind Dominic Solanke who played as the striker.

This formation of course was fluid with all players interchanging their positions. If Milner does not recover in time for the Champions League final, Liverpool could use this formation or opt for a 3-4-3 formation where Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson play as wing backs with Henderson and Wijnaldum in midfield and Ragnar Klavan in defence along with Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk.

Regardless off the replacements, Milner will be a player that Liverpool misses tremendously. He broke the record for most assists in Champions league after Roberto Firmino headed the ball from his corner. The previous record of eight assists were held by Neymar and Wayne Rooney. Apart from his assists he has been instrumental in protecting the defence and harassing opponents with his presses up the midfield.

Klopp has stated that the injury is not major and he could still feature in the Champions League final. However, he did not assure that Milner will certainly return. This will probably leave the staff at Anfield and the fans sweating as Milner has been a rock for Liverpool this season.

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    Story first published: Monday, May 14, 2018, 15:34 [IST]
    Other articles published on May 14, 2018
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