Using James Milner as full-back cover for Liverpool makes some sense, at least for this season

Liverpool's James Milner

James Milner's role in the Liverpool side may be to offer cover - including in the full-back role.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp with James Milner during the warm up before the matchLiverpool manager Juergen Klopp with James Milner during the warm up before the match

There are many terms that can be used to describe Liverpool's vice-captain. Versatile, selfless and team player are all among those that come to mind - but one doubts that many would describe him as a 'full-back'.

Yet, according to the Liverpool Echo, that could be where James Milner operates at stages during the season. There were one or two occasions last season when he was used in the role.

In a win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park he seemed to be covering in the role somewhat before he was given his marching orders when the Reds were trailing in the game - hardly ideal. Then there was a display where he played at left-back in the second leg of the Europa League last-16 tie against Manchester United. It was a night when his lack of practice in the position was on show once, but he managed to put in a solid performance. Whenever an attacking change was made, he seemed to drop into a deeper position out wide.

As it stands, it's hard to see where Milner gets into the starting XI. He was used in central midfield towards the end of last season but one would think that Jordan Henderson's return to fitness, along with the signing of Marko Grujic would mean he would be a little further down the pecking order there. 

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho has a shot at goalLiverpool's Philippe Coutinho has a shot at goal

If he wanted to play further forward, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana are all among the players he would have compete with for a regular starting place. It's one part of the squad where Liverpool are pretty well stocked.

Liverpool are low on cover it seems. Nathaniel Clyne can play on both flanks and if his fitness record from last season is anything to go by, the chances are that he could play in that role for every game in the coming season - as European football isn't a factor for the Reds.

If you were to list Milner's attributes, you'd say that his delivery from wide areas is among his best. He can whip a ball into dangerous areas of the penalty area from virtually anywhere out wide - corner-kicks against Borussia Dortmund aside.

Liverpool's Jonathan Flanagan in action with Tranmere's Darren StephensonLiverpool's Jonathan Flanagan in action with Tranmere's Darren Stephenson

Furthermore, with Jon Flanagan needing regular game time under his belt - it's best he goes out on loan in order to prove his fitness rather than staying at the club where his appearances are going likely be few and far between - and having someone of decent experience able to cover is probably better than relying on a younger player should they need a sustained run in the side. The mentality of being prepared to play every week is something that Milner has that younger players won't have necessarily developed for the highest level just yet. 

There are going to be times this season when Liverpool may need to have explore different options in the side when they are faced with a team that's willing to put men behind the ball when they arrive at Anfield - it's where Milner's delivery could prove useful, along with his experience.

It's not hard to see the logic behind Klopp's decision. He can only make so many players happy, he needs some experience in that role should anything happen to either of the Reds full-backs. Whether he's vindicated in his decision is something we'll find out during the season.

Liverpool manager Juergen KloppLiverpool manager Juergen Klopp

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