Despite Setbacks, Jordan Henderson Only Looking Forward

Mark Thompson

Despite a poor loss to Southampton on Saturday that saw him relegated in favour of an off-form and injured player, Jordan Henderson insists he's only looking ahead when it comes to both Liverpool's chances and his own.

On Saturday, Jordan Henderson found himself stuck on the bench, an off-form player carrying a shoulder injury that has limited his mobility since October preferred in the starting eleven ahead of him. Yet despite the setbacks both personally and for Liverpool that the Southampton loss represented, Jordan Henderson is only looking onwards and upwards for both himself and the club.

"We’ve still got eight games to play and that’s a lot of points to play for," he insisted in an interview with the Liverpool Echo. "We’ve still got to play some of the teams above us so we have to keep going. We have to pick ourselves up from this and ensure we respond positively against Aston Villa after the international break."

After being one of the club's best performers over the winter months, a preference for a 4-2-4 that allows not only Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge but also Philippe Coutinho and Stewart Downing to start most of Liverpool's league matches has seen a decreased workload for Henderson of late.

"I’ve just got to keep working hard," he said. "Before Saturday, the team had been playing brilliantly so I can’t complain. Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have both done really well since they came to the club and we’ve got good competition for places.

"You can’t really change a winning team so I’ve understood why I’ve not played. I just have to make sure that when the manager needs me I’m ready to take my chance."

Henderson finding himself down the pecking order as Brendan Rodgers abandons any pretence of a dominating midfield in order to play with the new attacking toys the club picked up over January might be understandable on some levels, even if it appears to run counter to so much of what the manager has preached since arriving at the club.

That Henderson also finds himself once again behind Joe Allen despite his strong play of late and the injured Allen's poor form is another issue entirely, and one that has convinced many that no matter the positive sounds he continues to make in public, Jordan Henderson's time at Liverpool Football Club is nearing its end.

He may still get one last chance to impress Rodgers after Allen withdrew from the Wales squad in expectation of undergoing surgery on his damaged shoulder. Yet if Henderson's play in recent months wasn't enough to convince the manager he should have started against Southampton ahead of a player who could only manage a 65% pass completion rate as he winced around the pitch in clear discomfort, it's hard to imagine anything will.

While it may seem likely the unfavoured Henderson won't start next season at the club, his immediate future is far more certain and will involve heading off to captain Stewart Pearce's England U21 side as they take on Romania and Austria ahead of the summer's U21 European Championships. Henderson will be expected to start as the deepest midfielder in both games.

Meanwhile, Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom, and Jack Robinson all join him in a Liverpool-heavy side—and a side that under Pearce has developed into a surprisingly entertaining attacking force built around an uptempo 4-3-3 that passes the ball well when in possession and presses hard without it.

The England U21s take on Romania from Adams Park on Thursday at 7PM GMT/3PM EST. They will then host Austria from the home of Brighton & Hove Albion at 7:45PM GMT/3:45PM EST on Monday.

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