Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes summer signing James Milner will make a “great ally” for new Reds captain Jordan Henderson.
After performing the role previously as a stand-in for the now-departed Steven Gerrard, Henderson has been appointed skipper on a full-time basis ahead of the new season. And on Friday, it was announced his fellow England midfielder Milner, recruited by Liverpool on a free transfer this summer after leaving Manchester City, is to be vice-captain.
The Merseyside outfit begin their 2015-16 Barclays Premier League campaign on Sunday at Stoke. And Rodgers said at his pre-match press conference: “Obviously Jordan has been appointed the captain, but I think James will be a great ally for him, because he leads by example.
“In terms of the captaincy and vice-captaincy, I think it can work really well for us.
“James is someone I have admired from the outside for a long time. He has played at this level since he was 16, gone around and played for some fantastic clubs, and went to Man City and did a great job.
“When there was a possibility he was going to be available, obviously you are surprised, but you are hoping that maybe you can get him to come to your club, because he is the type of player who gives everything.
“For me, his actual football talent has probably gone under the radar because he has been playing alongside some outstanding talents, but this is a guy who works tirelessly on his game.
“He also has big character and mentality, and I felt that we needed that in the team, to the extent that he should be the vice-captain.”
Henderson is also excited about what will be brought to Liverpool by Milner, who at 29 is four years his senior, has won four major trophies over the past five seasons with City and previously played for Aston Villa, Newcastle and Leeds.
“James has been a fantastic player for a number of years – I think we’ve all watched him for quite some time in the Premier League now and he’s been a great player,” Henderson told liverpoolfc.com.
“I think he can really add something to our team. He’s got great experience, is great technically and has great ability. I think this season, he’ll be a big player for us.
“I think it (experience) will only help, especially the younger lads. He’s won trophies and played at the highest level for club and country.
“He’s a great bonus and addition to the team – I’m sure all of us will learn from him.”
Rodgers has been full of praise for Henderson too, enthusing about the way he has taken to the role of captain so far.
The manager said: “I think you can see Jordan’s leadership on the field, and off the field he has been absolutely outstanding – a wonderful ambassador during what has been his first summer on tour having taken on that captaincy.
“He has done it fantastically well so far. It is a new experience for him but one he is really relishing and thriving on.”
Liverpool head into Sunday’s contest eager to make something of a statement after their poor 2014-15 campaign – which saw them finish sixth in the Premier League, a year on from coming second – concluded with a humiliating 6-1 defeat at Stoke.
Along with Milner, the likes of fellow summer recruits Christian Benteke, Danny Ings, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne are poised for competitive Reds debuts, while it remains to be seen whether forwards Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini – who both look set to leave the club – are involved.
Midfielder Joe Allen (hamstring) has joined striker Daniel Sturridge (hip) and defender Jon Flanagan (knee) on the list of those missing out through injury.