After starting the season brightly, Jordan Henderson's experienced something of a regression in form, struggling to come to grips with a role that seems to be changing on a day-to-day basis. His confidence from last season has waned, and while an ineffective system hasn't helped, he's also been plain not good at times. The same is true for most of the squad, but for a player whose energy and endurance was critical in Liverpool's successes last season, the dip in form has been disappointing.
His performances over the course of last season weren't a fluke, however, and the 24-year-old midfielder has showed plenty of resiliency during his Liverpool career in overcoming a difficult opening season. The appointed vice-captain reflected on these struggles recently while hailing the recent contributions of Lazar Markovic, another young player who's found himself in the crosshairs due to the price the club paid:
"Lazar's a fantastic player who's got great potential. In training we see the quality of the players that we've got in the group and I thought he was brilliant when he came on the other night. He was a real threat and possibly changed things in our favour, especially going forward because he looked really sharp. But, unfortunately, with the sending-off it came to an end. Hopefully he can take confidence from that, kick on and start doing it on a more consistent basis.
"When I came to Liverpool I found it difficult for the first year-and-a-half but I've always said that I wouldn't rather have not had that time because it was crucial in my development and I'm better for it now. I'm a better player and a better person. That time will definitely help me and I've got to help others in the team to deal with it the way that we need to progress and become a better team."
Two promising cameos do not a successful season make, but Markovic looked as good in the past week as he had since early appearances at Manchester City and Tottenham, and his 20-odd minutes between the Sunderland and Basel fixtures--cut short by a red card after ten minutes against the Swiss side--should give way to more playing time. With Bournemouth in the League Cup and a trip to Wimbledon in the FA Cup during the next month, he's likely guaranteed at least two more starts, but he's also earned an extended look in league, where minutes have been far more limited.
If Rodgers is intent on leaving Fabio Borini out until he's sold, the manager could do worse than adding Markovic's pace and downhill running to the forward line in some capacity, and hopefully over the next few weeks we get a chance to see the young Serbian make good on Henderson's words.
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