James Milner praised Aston Villa’s young players after their 4-1 loss to Liverpool.
Because of an outbreak of COVID-19 atAston Villa
’s training ground, the entire first-team squad, manager Dean Smith, and his first-team coaching staff had to self-isolate and therefore, Aston Villa had to field a team of U23 and U18 players for Friday’s match.
took charge of the players whose average age was just 18 years and 294 days. Among them were players who were not even born when
made his first-everFA Cup
appears for Leeds in January 2003.
After the game, Milner praised the young players despite their 4-1 defeat.
“A good set of lads, honest, worked hard for each other, quality," he said. "They put a shift in – we expected that we didn't want to take it for granted. In the first half, they got the goal to keep playing. We got the result in the end but I think it's not an ideal situation for either team.”
scored the opener after only four minutes and it was a shock for Aston Villa. However, they slowly battled their way back as 17-year-old
scored the equalizer before half-time.
seemed frustrated as Villa continued to hold their own, however, their resistance was finally broken in the 60th minute when
scored the second goal for his side. Then a second goal from Mane and another from
extended Liverpool’s lead.
"I think obviously we needed to do some things better," Milner added. "I think we started pretty well with the counter-pressing and pressed on the ball, but then maybe didn't get it right – especially for the goal [we] let them out of a couple situations in the corner where they shouldn't have got out.
"They're good players, they're at Aston Villa for a reason. One of their lads said he hadn't played for two months.
"Every single time you're not quite there, you're going to get punished. They took the goal and we had to lift ourselves again."