Henderson's Determination Leaves Rodgers With Selection Headache

Mark Thompson

After starting the season surplus to requirements, Jordan Henderson believes his determination to prove his worth has left Brendan Rodgers with a selection headache in midfield—though on the evidence, perhaps it shouldn't be much of one.

Jordan Henderson's start to life under manager Brendan Rodgers was far from easy going, with rumours the manager didn't rate the England U21 captain and that the club wanted to send him to Fulham to help secure a move for Clint Dempsey. After coming in the year before for £16M and quickly establishing himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet under Kenny Dalglish, it was an unexpected turn in fortunes for the young midfielder.

At the time some had wondered why he was one of Dalglish's favoured players, especially on the right where his inclusion meant the more established Dirk Kuyt was forced to the bench, but when played in a more natural central midfield position he always looked a player capable of one day living up to his price tag. His comfort in that central role along with a high workrate and strong short passing game meant most assumed he would be a perfect fit for Rodgers when the new manager arrived.

Rodgers, however, didn't see things quite the same way. At least not in the beginning. Over the past two months, however, there have been growing signs that Liverpool's manager may finally be coming around to the merits of Jordan Henderson—and the player himself is determined to keep fighting every day in training to keep his manager's newfound faith.

"I think we’ve got a lot of good players in the team so it’s a headache every week for him," said Henderson of the difficulty Rodgers faces selecting starters from the crowd of midfielders available to the Liverpool manager. "It makes everyone push on in training and try to improve, and that's a good thing."

With Henderson having started three of Liverpool's past four matches—and with those three matches all being convincing wins sandwiched around a loss against Manchester United when he began on the bench—it's fair to say the player has given Rodgers just such a headache.

Though on the evidence perhaps it shouldn't be. Over the past six weeks Liverpool have consistently performed better with Henderson in the lineup, and if the team is to be selected based on form and positive impact, there's really no question Henderson should be starting every Premier League game in the immediate future.

The smart money will be on Henderson and one of Lucas or Steven Gerrard making way for Joe Allen and Jonjo Shelvey against Oldham on Sunday, but even a strong showing for either replacement shouldn't be enough to dislodge Henderson in the league given his recent form. No matter what happens in the FA Cup this weekend, Henderson must start when Liverpool travel to face Arsenal next Wednesday.

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