Football: Milner hopes to win League Cup

Reds vice-captain upbeat about club's form, Klopp dismisses talk of signing a new goalie

James Milner reacts during the Uefa Europa League match between Liverpool and Bordeaux.
James Milner reacts during the Uefa Europa League match between Liverpool and Bordeaux. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • Liverpool midfielder James Milner believes the Reds have hit form at the right time ahead of a season-defining month, with a first trophy possible under new manager Juergen Klopp.

The Merseysiders, who have won six of their last seven games in all competitions, play seven times in December. They kick off another hectic schedule away to Southampton in the quarter-final of the League Cup tonight.

"This is always a crucial period. The league table always looks so much different at the beginning to mid-January than at the start of December," Milner was quoted as saying by British media.

"You see suspensions and injuries taking hold and teams losing and gaining form.

"It is a great time to be in good form going into this Christmas period and, hopefully, we can keep it going," he added.

Liverpool's last trophy was the 2012 League Cup and the former Manchester City midfielder said he was optimistic the club, who are sixth in the Premier League, could end their wait for silverware.

"It is a great chance of a trophy," said Milner of the League Cup.

He was a winner in the competition with Manchester City last year.

"(It) gets some bad press at times for whatever reason, but if you ask anyone, they would take a League Cup this season.

"We are one game away from semi-finals and then a shot at the Cup at Wembley.

"I have been lucky enough to win it and hopefully I can win it again. It is the first competition you can win this season, nobody will be complaining if we are sat there in February or March whenever the final is with a trophy in the cabinet with plenty more games to go. Everyone would be delighted with that."

Klopp has confirmed that back-up goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, who played in the two previous rounds of the League Cup, will start at St Mary's Stadium.

But he gave No. 1 Simon Mignolet, 27, a huge vote of confidence.

Liverpool and city rivals Everton have been linked with Stoke City's Jack Butland.

The in-form goalkeeper has made more saves this season than any other Premier League stopper.

There has also been speculation that the Reds are monitoring Cologne's German goalkeeper Timo Horn.

Klopp, however, has ruled out a bid for a new stopper.

"I'm absolutely satisfied with goalkeeper situation, sorry to kill your stories about German goalkeepers, Stoke or wherever," he told a press conference yesterday. "We have enough high-quality goalkeepers.

"I've had a lot of goalkeepers over the last few years and Simon Mignolet is one of the smartest goalkeepers I have ever had.

"He is completely open and he's young enough to develop, to improve. He's not had the easiest situation before I came here, but since I have been here, there has been nothing to criticise."

Goalkeeper aside, Klopp confirmed that he will play his strongest line-up against the Saints, with fit-again Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson both available.

"The biggest fault you can make is thinking you're already in the next round and it's "only Southampton". But they're pretty hot on this game," said the German.

"OK, they've lost their last two games but they'll want to put things right and we know we're in for a hard night."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2015, with the headline 'MILNER HOPES TO WIN LEAGUE CUP'. Subscribe