At the start of the 2016-17 season, there were question marks surrounding Jordan Henderson. Jürgen Klopp had moved the midfielder deeper, asking him to play the six, the single-pivot in the manager’s three-man midfield. It wasn’t a role he’d taken on before.
There were doubts. Some wondered if it was a sign that Klopp didn’t think Henderson was good enough in a box to box role and whether, if he didn’t now excel in the six, it might spell the end of his time at the club. But he did excel. He was imperious. Then injuries derailed his season.
“The majority of the injuries I’ve had have been difficult ones,” Liverpool’s captain said, reflecting on two seasons that have seen him struggle to stay fit, and particularly with struggles managing his plantar fasciitis, an incurable heel problem.
The belief at the club now, though, is that they have figured out how to manage Henderson’s injury. They may not be able to ever cure it, but its impact can be minimised and won’t stop Henderson from being a regular contributor over the coming season.
“I’d say the last few months were very difficult personally,” Henderson added. “You’ve got to learn from the experience. I feel stronger for it physically and mentally. For any player, injuries are the worst part of football, but you’ve got to deal with it and come back stronger.”
If his display against Crystal Palace on Wednesday is anything to go by, Henderson is back to his best and not showing any signs of injury or rust. If it is a sign of things to come, expect to see a lot of Jordan Henderson at the base of midfield for Liverpool this season.