A series of injuries and the friendly nature of England's two November internationals has led to an overdue return to the national team for Liverpool's Jordan Henderson. A victim of the expectations created by his price tag when he moved to Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish, it has taken Henderson time to overcome the belief that if he's not scoring a goal every second game he's somehow a complete failure as a player.
Now, though, with Henderson playing some of the best and most consistent football of his career and showing his value every week for Liverpool as an energetic and tactically sound midfielder who can fill in capably just about anywhere on the pitch, he's finally starting to get a bit of the recognition his play deserves. Inevitably if belatedly, it has led to a call-up to an England side set to face Chile and Germany.
"If you are doing well and your team is doing well then people will be looking at you, but you have to take the chance," said Henderson when asked about his inclusion in Roy Hodgson's latest England squad by the Liverpool Echo. "I have the opportunity to go and train with England and I have to make sure I [take that chance].
"I think I have improved definitely over the last few years [but] I have to keep doing that and keep improving as time goes on. I'm delighted to be back in the squad. It’s a massive boost and I’m delighted to be going there, but when I am there I need to make sure that I am working hard and keep doing what I have been doing here and do the best I can and make sure I am getting picked again."
Though most of his time with England so far has been as captain of the U21s—a duty that ended with the U21 European Championships over the summer when his eligibility ran out—this isn't his first time with the senior side. Following Hodgson's appointment as England manager, Henderson got a chance to join them at the last Euros, and even made two appearances off the bench while they made it deeper into the competition than most had expected.
"It was brilliant that he could turn to me and put me on [against Italy in the quarter-final]," he said. "He believed that I could go and do a job for the team, and I feel like I have improved since then and hopefully I can keep going and put in some good performances. I came on in extra time when Scotty Parker was getting a bit tired and I just tried to come on and give the team some legs in the middle of the park."
Now, having been handed another chance to impress for England's senior side after a time away from international competition, he's determined to impress. And not just for the usual reasons of wanting the chance to represent his country at the World Cup and future European Championships. As much as anything, Henderson's determined to seize the opportunity in order to avoid being bored next international break.
"You get a few days off but I didn’t really enjoy watching it on the TV seeing the U21s and the seniors play," he noted. "I was a little bit disappointed [in October] that I had a couple of days off [since] I was used to being away with the U21s, but I have to make sure that when I join up I ensure I deserve to be there so that I can be picked again."