As Curtis Jones finds his feet as part of the Liverpool side again, the 20-year-old is being kept on his toes by a player almost twice his age in James Milner.
Jones is currently on a run of three consecutive starts for the Reds, owing to injuries to Harvey Elliott, Thiago and Naby Keita, and is expected to make that four this weekend.
That there will be no concern over his involvement in such a high-profile clash as the visit of Man City is testament to his form since returning to the starting lineup, best seen in the 5-1 rout of Porto.
Joining Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in midfield, Jones ran the game and had a hand in four of the five goals – though not all official assists, the academy graduate was undoubtedly their creator.
It was a big display after Jurgen Klopp‘s challenge to find consistency, and the hope will be that he can keep up the standards against City.
One player who will be making effort to ensure that is the case is Milner, with the Times‘ Paul Joyce outlining the mentoring role he has taken with Jones.
“James Milner has been responsible for daily ‘rockets’ aimed at ensuring the quality never dips to unacceptable levels,” Joyce explained.
The vice-captain is claimed to have isolated three key areas for improvement in the No. 17, which were all on show against Porto.
Joyce added: “Milner would not waste his words on anyone but applied tough love, calling him out about using his left foot, his heading and physicality.”
At the Estadio do Dragao, Jones was at his physical best in midfield, as evidenced in the buildup to Mohamed Salah‘s second goal of the game, winning the ball by the halfway line and turning towards goal.
Meanwhile, his assist for the first of Roberto Firmino‘s brace came with an excellent lofted ball deep in the Liverpool half, coming from his left foot.
Milner has been widely credited as one of the most influential players in the Liverpool squad, with Elliott among those to praise the support given during his development as a young player.
Both the 35-year-old and Jones should start against City, and though they will be operating on different sides of the pitch as right-back and left-sided midfielder respectively, those lessons learned will hopefully ring true again.