James Milner supports young Liverpool FA Cup squad at Anfield

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Alisson went home to Rio. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Adam Lallana vacationed across the pond to Miami. Fabinho and Roberto Firmino soaked up the sun in the Maldives.

Not James Milner. He spent his February break in the 45-degree Anfield cold with the Liverpool youth team.

With Reds boss Jurgen Klopp giving the first team its February hiatus unchallenged, the manager instead sent the youth team to play in the FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury Town, winning the match 1-0 on a late own-goal. Milner was on hand to watch the young squad, even training with the team before the match and giving a team talk as well. According to one report, he was even one of the most excited figures in the post-match dressing room after the victory.

It certainly helped that he was due at Melwood for recovery from a muscle injury that has forced him to miss the last month of action, but his presence with the youth squad clearly had an impact on both the players and the boss.

“He trained with us yesterday and that obviously gives a boost,” said 18-year-old Neco Williams, who was part of the matchday starting lineup for Liverpool. “For him to be here today, to be in the changing rooms giving us advice, cheering us on I thought it was unbelievable from him. All the lads will cherish that. It was a special night for a lot of us, a night that we’ll remember for a long time especially the debutants.”

“He trained with us yesterday and he asked whether he could come along. I think the answer is: ‘Yes, of course you can.’ It was very respectful to ask,” said youth team manager Neil Critchley, who took charge of the FA Cup game for Liverpool with Klopp also on holiday. “He then said: ‘Can I come in the dressing room?’ What do you think? ‘Of course!’ He was giving words of advice, he was getting right behind the players. He was vocal in the dressing room. He was animated. He was vocal behind me, I could hear him. He was genuinely delighted at how the boys performed and I can’t thank him enough.”

Milner, known for his no-nonsense personality and his dedication to the game, seems form fitted to this kind of action. The 34-year-old has been with Liverpool since joining from Man City in 2015, making 205 appearances for the Reds across all competitions.

The Premier League’s brief February break sees the club have two weeks off, with its next match coming against Norwich City on February 15. This year is the first that a break was built into the schedule.