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Garth Crooks heaps praise on unsung Liverpool star after win over Crystal Palace

Garth Crooks has told his BBC Sport Team of the Week column that James Milner has been a “giant” for Liverpool, after shining on Saturday.

Milner, 35, was handed his second start of the season against Palace on Saturday – covering for Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back.

Despite coming up against Wilfried Zaha, Milner produced a near-perfect performance. He kept Zaha quiet, but also contributed to the attack.

Liverpool beat Palace 3-0, thanks to goals from Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Naby Keita. A comfortable performance from Jurgen Klopp’s side.

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But it was Milner that won the plaudits as he continues to prove that age is just a number. Crooks was full of praise for the 61-time England star.

“I remember Milner at Newcastle, thinking he’s a grafter. At Villa, he had become a driving force. At Manchester City, he surprised the hell out of me.

“As a Liverpool player, James Milner has been a giant. He’s instrumental in seeing Jurgen Klopp’s safe transition into Liverpool Football Club as captain.

“Klopp is now repaying the dedication and service he has shown to him and the club by retaining his services when they didn’t really have to.”

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Crooks on Milner: Liverpool star still pivotal for Klopp

Crooks suggesting Liverpool did not need to keep Milner is perhaps slightly harsh. He is an incredible player, an incredible athlete, and a winner.

His time at Manchester City saw him become the cream of the crop, and he has further strengthened that with titles in the red of Liverpool.

But he offers versatility and quality in numerous roles on the pitch. Right-back, left-back, holding midfield, box to box – naturally a winger.

Off the pitch, Milner is another captain. Crucial to the dressing room, a great attitude and a perfect example for young Liverpool players to follow.

Crooks is right to praise Milner but to suggest Liverpool might not have kept him? He is just as crucial to Liverpool now, as he was when joining in 2015.

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