JAMES Milner only played briefly under Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool after being signed by him on a free transfer back in the summer of 2015.

A disappointing run of form led to his manager being sacked just 11 matches into his first season at Anfield.

But the England midfielder saw enough in the four months they worked together to convince him the Northern Irishman would have turned things around if he had been given time.

“It was unfortunate I didn’t get to play under him for longer,” said Milner, who will meet up with Rodgers again at Parkhead on Saturday, September 8, when a Celtic legends team takes on a Liverpool greats side in A Match for Cancer.

“That remains a disappointment. From speaking with him before I joined Liverpool and then working with him full time I could see how well prepared he is, how good he is tactically during training sessions and how impressive his man management is.

“My impression of him was that he’s a very good manager. He was one of the main reasons I signed for Liverpool, in fact. It’s a massive club and doesn’t need too much selling, but Brendan played a very big part when I made my decision.

“Would he have turned things round if he’d been given more time? I’m sure he would have done; you don’t come as close as he did to winning the league without doing something right, but the club chose a different path.”

So, Milner is in no doubt that Rodgers, who suffered the first major disappointment of his two year reign as Celtic manager last week when his side failed to progress to the Champions League group stages, will recover quickly and enjoy another successful campaign both domestically and in Europe.

The former Leeds United, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Manchester City laughs when he hears that the back-to-back defeats to Hearts and AEK Athens, the first of his trophy-laden tenure, described as a “crisis”.

Yet, he knows from his own personal experiences that the reaction to disappointing results at major clubs can often border on the hysterical and is confident that Rodgers does too.

“That’s what happens when you’re at a club like Celtic,” he said. “You have to deal with those expectations. But Brendan has been there before and I’m sure he’ll cope with that. Celtic are still in with a chance of qualifying for the Europa League group stage and keeping that going until Christmas at least.”

Milner turned out for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev back in May, but was helpless to prevent his side, who conceded two soft goals to the defending champions in the second-half, from slumping to an agonising 3-1 defeat.

But he was also involved as the Anfield club took on Hoffenheim of Germany for a place in the group stages at the start of that campaign and sympathises with what Celtic have to go through to get into the tournament proper.

“The Champions League is very tough, especially when you factor in the number of games Celtic need to play just to reach the groups,” he said. “I’ve played in qualifiers before and people see some of the teams involved, with players they’ve never heard of, and they think it’s going to be easy, but it hardly ever works out that way.

“You find that they’re in the qualifiers for a reason. They might not have the same exposure as the clubs from the biggest countries, but these are hard ties, especially because they come so early in the season – that doesn’t make it any easier. Teams like AEK Athens have a lot of European experience as well.

“I played against Hoffenheim with Liverpool. It wasn’t an easy tie. They are difficult because of how early they come in the season. They are such big games. All the hard work you have done the year before to get into a position to get into the Champions League qualifiers can be thrown away in a two-legged game. It is tough. European football is obviously important to a club like Celtic.”

Milner helped Liverpool reach the Europa League final in Basel two years ago and was devastated when they let a half-time lead over Sevilla slip and lost 3-1.

He feels there is no disgrace in Celtic, who take on FK Suduva in the first leg of the play-off in Lithuania on Thursday evening, taking part in that competition alongside, among others, AC Milan, Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea, Fenerbahce and Spartak Moscow and believes they will have to perform at their very best to qualify and then progress to the knockout rounds.

“I’m sure they’ll be pushing hard to get into the Europa League group stages,” he said. “That is a great competition as well. Unfortunately, I lost to Seville in the final with Liverpool. Thinking about not winning that European trophy still hurts.

“There is quality in the Europa League from the start, even before the clubs from the Champions League drop in. It’s a very good tournament to do well in.”

Meanwhile, Milner admitted he had no hesitation agreeing to put together a Liverpool legends team for A Match for Cancer when Stiliyan Petrov, the former Celtic midfielder who he played alongside at Aston Villa, contacted him.

“Over the years we’ve helped at each other’s events and we’d talked about putting on this match for some time and now we’ve finally done it,” he said. “It’s a great thing – he obviously has strong ties with Glasgow Celtic and he had a previous match here which had a great crowd. Everyone knows how good the club’s supporters are so this was the logical place to do it.

“Footballers are very lucky because we enjoy what we’re doing and we’re well paid for it. There’s a profile which comes with it and sometimes that’s not so good, but you can use it to help others and, for me, visiting the charities and seeing some of the people we’re helping, it makes the hard work involved in setting up these events worthwhile.”

A Match for Cancer will take place at Celtic Park on Saturday, September 8. Tickets are now on sale priced £14 for adults and £6 for concessions.