Critchley thanks Milner for inspiring Liverpool youngsters

Liverpool U23 coach Neil Critchley celebrates after the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury Town at Anfield, Liverpool
Liverpool U23 coach Neil Critchley celebrates after the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury Town at Anfield, Liverpool
Image: ANDREW YATES/REUTERS

Liverpool's under-23 manager Neil Critchley has credited James Milner with helping inspire the club's youngest-ever starting side to their FA Cup fourth-round victory against Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday.

With Jurgen Klopp opting to rest his senior squad for the replay during the Premier League's winter break, Milner, 34, took it upon himself to get heavily involved in the young side's buildup to the clash at Anfield, which Liverpool won 1-0.

"He trained with us yesterday and he asked whether he could come along. I was like, 'I think the answer is yes to that one. Of course you can,'" He was very respectful to ask," Critchley told reporters.

"He has achieved so much in the game because of who he is; he was giving words of advice to the players, he was getting right behind them, he was vocal in the dressing room and animated behind me."

Critchley said Milner, who has been sidelined with injury, was delighted with the performance against the third-tier side.

"I don't think he's available yet ... but he was jumping up and down behind me so I think he was desperate to get on," said Critchley, adding that Klopp had also sent a message to the team.

"He's buzzing. We've given him a (fifth round) game against Chelsea away to look forward to."

Meanwhile, Derby County skipper Wayne Rooney will relish the "special" FA Cup reunion with Manchester United next month, manager Phillip Cocu has said.

The 34-year-old scored a penalty in Derby's 4-2 victory over fourth-tier Northampton Town in Tuesday's fourth-round replay to set up the meeting with United, where he spent 13 trophy-laden years and left as their record goalscorer.

It will be the first time Rooney faces United since playing against them for Everton in 2018 before a year-long stint at Major League Soccer outfit DC United.

"He comes back from the States, joins us and now plays his old club where he had a great career ... it's special ... I'm sure he will be ready," Cocu told reporters.

Rooney has become a key player for the Championship side (second tier) since making his debut last month, scoring in his last three games.

"It'll be a beautiful game not just for Wayne, but everyone at the club," Cocu said.

"Maybe in the league table everybody expects them to be higher up, but that doesn't mean they play bad football. It's is an extremely strong team, but we'll do everything in our power to create a great atmosphere and a great game."

- Reuters

 

 

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