James Milner gave his backing to Curtis Jones after the Liverpool youngster was subbed off at half-time during Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League victory over Ajax, speaking to the club’s official website.
Unfortunately for the Merseyside-born 19-year-old, his long-awaited European debut didn’t go as he would have hoped.
Jones struggled to make an impact during a laborious first-half performance from a Liverpool side that, thanks to Nicolas Tagliafico’s calamitous own goal and a couple of wasteful Ajax finishes, were fortunate to be 1-0 up at the break.
The teenage midfielder was nowhere to be seen after the interval either, replaced by captain Jordan Henderson as Klopp tried to inject intensity and control into the heart of his team.
But Milner, who played the full 90 minutes at the Johan Cruyff Arena, is confident Jones will have plenty more chances to make his mark on the European stage.
“He’s a very good player. I’m sure it will be the first (appearance) of many,” the 34-year-old said.
“He didn’t know he was playing until quite late yesterday. He’s a very good player. I thought he did well, it’s no reflection on him coming off at half-time.
“It’s the first of many European nights for him because he’s a top, top player.”
While Jones didn’t do his talent justice on the night, Liverpool were indebted to a couple of stand-out performances as they picked up a win for the first time since 28 September.
Fabinho and Joe Gomez stepped up brilliantly in Virgil van Dijk’s absence, while Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane were a constant threat down the left-hand side.
Liverpool’s trophies under Jurgen Klopp
UEFA Super Cup
FIFA Club World Cup