This has been a week for celebrating Liverpool birthdays: first Philippe Coutinho, then Jurgen Klopp, and now today Jordan Henderson.
If the Liverpool captain has one wish whilst blowing out his candles, he might wish for a clean bill of health for the foreseeable future. Hendo has been a great leader on the pitch when healthy, but his on-going battle with plantar fasciitis has relegated him to the physio room far too often. The 27-year-old captain made just 24 Premier League appearances last campaign, last appearing in the 2-0 victory over Spurs in mid-February.
Former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness feels, with good reason, that Liverpool have been a lesser side in his absence.
"In the playing sense they've missed him greatly," Souness told the club’s official site. "You're not always bossing the game - doesn't matter what team you are, you're not always in charge of the game - and he's really good at making [his opponent] go into areas and make passes they don't want to.
"As well as that, I think he's improved with his own technique - he can open the play up both short and long now, and he's a major influence.
"Arguably, he might have been the first on the teamsheet when he was firing on all cylinders."
Souness, while stating the obvious, is not wrong. Emre Can, as talented and promising as he is, is not yet to Henderson’s level. Add in the fact that with the captaincy comes added on and off pitch responsibilities, Henderson’s absence has been especially difficult.
"Being the captain of a club like Liverpool is an enormous responsibility; you're forever being compared to people who have gone before you," Souness explained, probably alluding more to Steven Gerrard than himself.
"He looks to be a really steady character, which will stand him in good stead when things don't go well.
"We just have to start winning trophies now and, with him back, it gives us a far better chance."
Yes, having your best players available general improves your odds of winning stuff. Hopefully our captain is back and ready for action to start the season. An always tricky Premier League and an important Champions League playoff round awaits us in August.