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James Milner reveals how he reacted when Jurgen Klopp first asked him to play left-back

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Liverpool are now just one win away from qualifying for next season's Champions League - a target many fans would have bitten your hand off to achieve this time 12 months ago.

The fact they are in a prime position to return to Europe's top table is even more impressive when you consider James Milner has spent the entire campaign at left-back.

The former England international has been versatile throughout his career but spending an entire season in defence was a big gamble for his manager Jurgen Klopp to make.

And yet Milner has proven a more than adequate stop-gap measure during 2016/17.

As well looking as more assured at the back, Milner has still been able to contribute at the other end of the pitch too.

The 31-year-old has picked up three assists and scored seven goals - although it could have been eight had he not missed a penalty against Southampton a few weeks ago.

"I may have scored a lot of penalties at the club but the only one anybody has mentioned is the one I have just missed," Milner told the Daily Mail.

"Fans come in for signings and one said, 'Make sure you choose the right corner this time.' It's a harsh world isn't it?"

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Clearly not overly keen on Alberto Moreno being the first choice left-back, Klopp turned to Milner after being unable to bring in a new potential replacement last summer.

And Milner has revealed he did consider rejecting his manager's request to change positions.

When asked if he thought about turning down the switch, he added: "Yeah, I did.

"When he first asked I thought of my options but I want to play as much as I can — and I want to play for this manager.

"I've been very frustrated in training, not being in the thick of the action, but I believe in doing things the right way and that means the team comes first. It's not James Milner FC is it? It's Liverpool FC.

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"That's the way I was brought up. When I came through at Leeds they were the standards set by Batty, Matteo, Viduka and Smith. Great professionals.

"It's my decision. I just hope my manager and team-mates are happy."

Can you imagine the scenes if Milner had said no? Klopp would have probably shown him the exit quicker than he did to Mario Balotelli.

But he didn't and has since grown a lot closer to the Reds' German manager.

West Ham United v Liverpool - Premier League

"I call him gaffer. I've always called the managers that," Milner continued. "What you see is what you get. He doesn't put on a front for the Press.

"You see managers who put on a public show but you speak to their players and they say: 'He never talked to us — he wasn't like that. So what you guys see with this one is what we see every day."

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Topics:
James Milner
Philippe Coutinho
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