James Milner praises Aston Villa youth after cup defeat to Liverpool

James Milner admits Aston Villa’s Covid crisis was ‘not ideal for both teams’ after Liverpool’s FA Cup win as veteran reveals ‘things are not coming off for us at the moment’ after another drab first 45 minutes at Villa Park

  • Liverpool beat a young Aston Villa side 4-1 in Friday’s FA Cup third round tie
  • Villa had to play a young side as their whole first-team squad are in self-isolation
  • Louie Barry equalised for Villa in the first-half but Liverpool won the tie
  • Ex-Villa man James Milner, now of Liverpool, praised the youngsters’ effort 

James Milner praised Aston Villa’s young stars in their 4-1 FA cup third round defeat to Liverpool on Friday – as one of them told him it was their first game in two months.

Villa were forced to name a young team full of under-23s and under-18s players after their first-team squad was forced into self-isolation after a coronavirus outbreak at the Midlands club.

The youthful Villa side gave Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions a decent test – with 17-year-old striker Louie Barry scoring a first-half equaliser to make it 1-1 at the interval – and Liverpool midfielder Milner was full of praise for the young talent on show.

James Milner was full of praise for Aston Villa’s young stars despite a 4-1 loss to Liverpool

Villa were forced to name a young line-up after their entire first-team were put in self-isolation

The average age of the Villa squad on Friday night was just 18 years and they had to be coached by under-23s manager Mark Delaney, with first-team boss Dean Smith and his entire coaching staff forced into self-isolation themselves.

The former Villa man told BT Sport: ‘One of their lads said they hadn’t played for two months. It’s not ideal for either team. Nobody wants this but it’s where we’re at at this stage.

‘They’ve done well. They’re a good set of lads. They worked hard for each other and showed quality. They’re good players, they’re at Aston Villa for a reason. Even tonight, every single time you’re not there, you’re punished and we had to go again.

The way in which Liverpool progressed to the fourth round may have been more challenging than expected but Klopp’s side bounced back after three games without a win in the Premier League. 

Milner (right) claimed one Villa player revealed the defeat was their first match in two months 

The Reds drew with lowly Newcastle and West Brom before suffering defeat at the hands of Ralph Hasenhuttl on Monday night to crank the pressure right up on their Premier League title defence. 

Milner admits that Liverpool have been lacking that attacking quality which saw them race to the title last season, but claimed it was good to rectify some previous issues against the youthful Villa side.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring after four minutes at Villa Park and three goals in five minutes from Gini Wijnaldum, Mane and Mohamed Salah gave the Reds a precious win after Barry’s shock equaliser.

Milner claimed Liverpool were not at their best on Friday but were addressing areas of concern

Mo Salah (left) and Sadio Mane (right) both scored after recent struggles in front of goal

Milner added: ‘We didn’t want to take it for granted and definitely not in the first-half, them getting the goal and we had to keep playing.

‘We had situations, chances, where we were getting into areas and not getting the final ball or final run (right). That’s been the story of the last two games. It’s good for us to work on that. 

‘We have to keep improving. We never fault the effort, but things are not coming off for us at the moment. But you saw the attitude of the boys trying to put things right.’ 

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