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Liverpool v Sion: Milner lifted by weight of history

Liverpool midfielder James Milner wants his team-mates to use the club’s European pedigree as an inspiration when the Europa League returns to Anfield with Thursday’s visit of Sion.

Brendan Rodger’ team host the Swiss outfit in their first Group B home match after sharing a 1-1 draw with Bordeaux in the round-robin opener.

Having taken a lead in France, Liverpool were also pegged back to draw 1-1 against Norwich City in their subsequent Premier League outing and required penalties to see off fourth-tier Carlisle United in the League Cup.

Milner opened the scoring against Aston Villa on Sunday before a Daniel Sturridge double paved the way for Liverpool’s 3-2 win, helping to quell a growing chorus of criticism, with their manager’s job coming in for particular scrutiny.

Rodgers said after the Villa victory that there was “a hysteria” building around Liverpool, but Milner understands the sharp focus upon the five-time European champions.

“Every day you walk through reception and see on the wall the number of trophies that have been won,” the 29-year-old told Liverpool’s official website. “That shows how big the club is and it’s used to success.

“When things aren’t going well, because the club has had that much success in its history, they expect [success]. That’s fair enough.

“It’s down to the players when they pull on the shirt to understand who you are playing for and the football club and everybody in the dressing room.

“But also all of the fans out there, not just those who pack inside Anfield and travel around the country and Europe, it’s the fans all over the world.

“There is a big responsibility but that’s why I’m here – I want to contribute to this club and be successful here.”

Liverpool suffered European heartache at the hands of Sion’s compatriots Basel during last season’s Champions League, losing 1-0 away and drawing 1-1 at Anfield to be demoted to the Europa League after the group stage.

Anfield played host to a thriller on Sion’s last visit in October 1996 – Liverpool prevailing 6-3 on the night on their way to an 8-4 aggregate triumph in the Cup Winners’ Cup.

Sion’s current vintage, under coach Didier Tholot, are playing in the group stage of a European tournament for the first time and attempting to overturn a winless run on the road in Europe that almost dates back to that Anfield reverse.  

Three draws and as many losses have come away from home in continental competitions – including a 3-0 default defeat at Celtic in 2011 for fielding ineligible players – since a 1-0 Intertoto Cup victory over TPS Turku in June 1998.

They were victorious over Rubin Kazan in the Group B opener, Moussa Konate scoring both goals in a 2-1 win.

Adam Lallana will hope for a return to the Liverpool starting XI having scored their goal in Bordeaux, while Rodgers remains without captain Jordan Henderson (foot), Christian Benteke (hamstring), Dejan Lovren (ankle) and Roberto Firmino (back).

Tue 29 Sep, 2015
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