December 16 2013 at 04:19pm By Reuters
London – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Jordan Henderson is showing the kind of form that convinced the club to splash £16 million on the midfielder two years ago.
While stand-in captain Luis Suarez continues to dominate the headlines following his 16th and 17th Premier League goals of the season in Sunday's 5-0 rout at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, 23-year-old Henderson keeps thriving in the heart of Liverpool's midfield.
In the absence of veteran midfielder Steven Gerrard, out with a hamstring injury until the new year, Henderson frequently disrupted the home attack and capped an impressive offensive performance with his side's second goal, as well as making a vital contribution to Suarez's opener.
Henderson initially struggled to impress following his big money move from Sunderland, and it appeared he did not figure in Rogers' plans when he replaced Kenny Dalglish as manager at the start of last season.
Despite being criticised by former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson for his running style, Henderson, capped seven times by England, has started to live up to his price tag and is the only outfield player to start all of Liverpool's 16 league games to date.
While no certainty of forcing his way into England's 23-man squad for next year's World Cup in Brazil, Rogers hailed the impact Henderson was having on the team.
“You just put it down to him,” Rogers told the club's website (www.liverpoolfc.com).
“When I came into the club, I had always heard he had a brilliant attitude to learn – that's what I've found since I have come in.
“I think it was a great buy by Kenny to bring a player of that quality in. As a young player that's hungry to learn – he's 23 years of age, he's 6ft 1in and he can run all day, he's technically very strong, tactically he is understanding when to press and when to drop in.”
While he lacked the flair of Suarez and young Brazilian Philippe Coutinho, Henderson was starting to stamp his authority on matches.
“His goal, technically, was a wonderful goal. He's a terrific player, he just needs confidence and constant work. He has been outstanding for me.
“I've always said that we can go into any stadium and play how we want to play, and don't feel inferior. With the level of our game, technically and tactically, we want to go into any stadium and play.
“When we have that focus and concentration, we're a very good side. Jordan is a mentally tough boy, he's so strong, and such a humble kid as well. He's only going to get better and better.”
While Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling also hit the back of the net for the Reds, Henderson said he was delighted to score his first league goal of the season.