James Milner joins Premier League 600 club – and sees himself in Ben Doak

James Milner became only the fourth player to make 600 appearances in the Premier League on Saturday, making a nod to Ben Doak as he soaked it in.

Milner returned to the side following a spell out due to a head injury, and replaced Harvey Elliott midway through the second half as Liverpool beat Southampton 3-1.

In doing so, the 36-year-old notched his 600th appearance in the English top flight, joining Gareth Barry (653), Ryan Giggs (632) and Frank Lampard (609) in an exclusive club.

Aaron Lennon (416), Jordan Henderson (408) and Ashley Young (403) are the only other active players in the top 40, with Milner’s achievement a remarkable one.

That is all the more so considering his success in that time, winning the Premier League three times so far in a 20-year career that began with Leeds in 2002.

Reflecting on the milestone in a post-match interview with BBC Sport, Milner looked to 17-year-old winger Ben Doak – on the Liverpool bench for the first time in the Premier League – to draw comparison to his younger self.

“It’s a big number, isn’t it? It’s unbelievable,” he said.

“It’s been a very long time.

“You see someone like Ben Doak come on the other night at a similar age and do well. Hopefully they can have a long career as I have.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 12, 2022: Liverpool's James Milner (L) challenges Southampton's Romain Perraud during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Milner added: “For our young guys it’s an unbelievable place to be. You can learn so much.

“You won’t go too far wrong watching these guys here and learning off them.”

It is characteristic of Liverpool’s No. 7 to look to others when questioned on such a significant moment for himself, as he has always been a team-first player.

That has clearly played a part in his longevity, willing to stand in in positions he would rather not – such as a campaign at left-back under Jurgen Klopp – and help his side see out wins as a late substitute.

To suggest Doak can come anywhere close to Milner’s record creates unnecessary pressure, but as the vice-captain explained, they are at the perfect club to build for the future.

Milner will almost certainly surpass Lampard’s tally of appearances before the season is out, with an as-yet-unclear summer to come with his contract due to expire.