Jordan Henderson is essentially Liverpool's new leader. During his time at the club, a raft of influential figures have departed a dressing room in need of leadership. The latest, and undoubtedly biggest, is Steven Gerrard. That departure alone resulted in the former Sunderland midfielder ascending to the club captaincy.
Against AFC Bournemouth, Henderson's influence was considerable for the minutes he clocked on the pitch. Injury curtailed his time on the pitch, but his professionalism, work ethic, and dedication provide a template for both young players and new signings to follow. Unfortunately, the 25-year-old isn't confident that he'll be available for a taxing trip to North London.
I am getting assessed day by day at the minute. It is all about pain, symptoms wise at the minute. When everything settles down I will be okay, but I don't know when that will be. I have done something with my heel so every time I sort of plant my foot, whether I'm running or walking, I can feel it. It has settled down over the last few days but I don't know what it will be like in terms of Monday. Hopefully it settles down some more. I just have to keep doing what I have been told to do by the physios in terms of treatment and hopefully it gets better. If I do play what is the risk and how long could I be out potentially if I do something in the game? That is the problem. There are many factors that the manager and the medical team need to decide. I just want to hopefully play on Monday but if I can't I need to get fit as soon as possible.
Should he stick or twist? Put his feet up before the international break for a proper recovery or go for a pain-killing injection to advance Liverpool's cause? Henderson went on to reveal that he has had problems in both feet for "a few months really" with typical understatement. However, this isn't the type of player to take time off when there's midfield work to do. Maybe that's part of the reason why Brendan Rodgers should consider rotating certain players occasionally. For example, James Milner is 29. He may be an extremely fit and durable player, but first-choice midfield folk do a lot of running in the Premier League.
On the subject of running in midfield, there may be a need for some holding too. Perhaps Henderson's injury allows Emre Can to come into midfield alongside Milner. If Rodgers persists with two players in midfield, having clear roles against tippy-tappy sorts like Arsenal may help. This isn't to say that Liverpool are better without Henderson, but there will be times when the club should be able to get by without Henderson or Milner as they're similar players. A better solution would be for a player like Lucas Leiva to feature behind the two England internationals away to some of the league's more illustrious outfits, but once again, this confused soul will leave such musings for another day.
If the captain is unable to start against Arsenal on Monday, it will mean that James Milner will lead the side out against Arséne Wenger's side. That's a lot of responsibility early on Milner's his short Liverpool career, which might make the occasion even more interesting. Jimmy will be fine. The club captain's absence may also result in an extended break for a player who is freakishly fit and durable with a generally even temperament. Sorry Roy Hodgson.
Henderson's mental and technical qualities are enhanced by his aforementioned fitness, making it easy to understand why he'll be missed in a huge test of a restructured squad. Whether Henderson or Milner lead the Reds at the Emirates on Monday, the captain won't let the team down in perspiration or application.