Henderson: Time to prove I'm no flop
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson is prepared to be patient in his determination to prove he is not a big-money flop at Anfield.
The 22-year-old arrived from Sunderland in the summer of 2011 with a hefty £16m (€19.98m) price tag which raised eyebrows among Premier League rivals.
As a result he has been lumped in with the rest of former manager Kenny Dalglish’s expensive signings – mainly Andy Carroll (€43m) and Stewart Downing (€24.9m) – for failing to provide value for money.
Dalglish being replaced by Brendan Rodgers in the summer has not helped and with Carroll sent out on loan to West Ham Henderson and Downing have been only bit-part players.
They are two of the first names brought up in speculation about an overhaul of the playing staff but Henderson dismisses suggestions he has been written off.
“From the outside it probably looks like that because of how much I played last year and this season I haven’t started a Premier League game,” he told Press Association Sport.
“But I am coming into training every day, working hard and learning all the things I need to learn and I will continue to learn the game as the manager keeps telling me.
“I am very focused on what I need to do and it doesn’t make a difference what anyone else thinks.
“I want my future to be at Liverpool so I’ll give everything every day to make sure that happens.
“It is hard. It is not easy to think long term, especially when I’ve played a lot of games in the Premier League considering my age.
“Now I’m 22 and I’m not playing as regularly as I would like to but, then again, I have got to take on board what the people are saying around me to try to improve myself as a player.
“I definitely think in the future, given the opportunity I will take it and become a first-team regular for Liverpool.”
Henderson’s move to Anfield has not been the smoothest as, even when he was playing regularly under Dalglish, it was rarely in his preferred central role.
Often he was stationed out on the right and both last season and this he has made an appearance at full-back.
Henderson is likely to get a run out tomorrow’s as the Europa League Group A leaders face Anzi Makhachkala – whom they beat a fortnight ago at Anfield - having previously made five starts in seven matches in the competition.
He accepts that while he is not in the frame for the Premier League he has to seize every opportunity to show Rodgers his value to the team.
“It is hard when you don’t play but you have to continue to work hard and fight for your place every day – and it’s not been all bad for me,” the England Under-21 international added.
“I have still played a few games here and there – Europa League and Capital One Cup – and I’ve been getting games for the under-21s as well.
“Obviously I want to be playing games in the Premier League but if I keep putting in good performances I am sure my chance will come some time soon and it is up to me to take it.
“When you are a young player you just want to play football, it doesn’t matter what position you play in really – as long as you are on the pitch nothing else matters.
“On a personal level I want to play in the middle and show what I can do in my preferred position but as long as you are in the starting 11 you can only do your best.
“I am improving as a player and I’ve learned a lot since the new manager came in and he’s helped with different things in my game.
“Obviously people like Steven Gerrard help you along the way but it is up to you to make sure you are focused and can work hard every single day.
“This is a massive opportunity for me to give the manager food for thought, stand up and be counted and show that I am fighting and I want to play in every game I can.”