Leading out Liverpool for Sunday’s Merseyside deby against Everton at Goodison Park will be a proud moment for James Milner.
The England midfielder moved to Anfield on a free transfer following five years with Manchester City during the close-season and he is currently captaining Brendan Rodgers’ side in the injury absence of Jordan Henderson.
He will continue in the role this weekend in the 225th edition of the famous fixture.
“It’s obviously a huge honour to lead out the team and that pressure doesn’t change whether you’re captain or not,” Milner told Liverpool’s official website.
“You want to go out there and perform well and win the game for the team, that’s the most important thing. If being captain I can help some of the guys in keeping them calm in pressure situations and help out some of the younger guys, then great.
“But whether you’re wearing the armband or not, I try to be the same player and try to help the guys in the same way and be a bit of a leader on the field. I think that’s important.
“We’ve got other great leaders in the squad as well. It is important that you stick together and the guys that have been there before and played in derbies can help out the younger guys and players who haven’t done that.
“It’s about sticking together and making sure we have more than one captain out there.”
Milner has ample derby experience having featured in the local arguments that grip Manchester, Birmingham and Tyne-Wear during his career and he is fully aware of what is at stake in his first Liverpool-Everton encounter.
“I’ve got derby experience at other teams I’ve played for but, having played at Everton, I know what a tough place it is to go anyway and the atmosphere that’s created there,” he added.
“I can only imagine it’s magnified by 10, 20 or 30 times playing in a Merseyside derby. It will be a great atmosphere, I’m sure.
“Obviously any derby you play in, you want to do it for the team but more so for the fans – they’ve got to go into work the next day and face their workmates and have bragging rights for at least three or four months.
“It’s important for them and everyone at the club and gives you that boost. Form always goes out of the window going into a derby.
“It’s normally a one-off game and a bit of a cup final and a completely different game to anything else you’re going to play for the rest of the season.”