Jordan Henderson‘s outstanding form this season is no surprise to one of his teammates. In fact, Simon Mignolet expected great things from the midfielder before either arrived at Liverpool.
The two played together with Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League in 2010-2011.
Following a challenging beginning to his career at Anfield, Henderson has blossomed into a commanding central presence under Brendan Rodgers, dictating play at the heart of the team with high-tempo pressing and distribution of sublime quality.
The 23-year-old also is the only outfield player at Liverpool to have started every league game so far. It’s a display of progress that Mignolet said he always knew would occur.
“Jordan has always been a very good player,” the Belgian told Liverpoolfc.com. “I remember when I was at Sunderland with him. He was still very young at that time, but everybody saw a very good player in him, and everybody saw what he was going to do in the future.
“Everybody saw that he definitely had the talent and that he was going to turn out to be a very good player, even at that age.
“He has matured and is getting a bit older now. You can see how good a player he is. He works really hard, and the energy he gives to the whole team is something to be very pleased with.”
With 20 games played in the Premier League, Rodgers’ team is in fourth and trails leader Arsenal by six points, despite a series of injuries.
Joe Allen, Jose Enrique, Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Sturridge are among the names currently missing from action, but Mignolet says the squad is strong enough to maintain its form.
“We’ve had some injuries along the way, but everybody who is working hard in training is there to do a job when he is asked upon or when he has to step onto the pitch when somebody is injured or suspended.
“So far we have dealt with those things as a group, which you should do as a whole team and a whole unit. We will keep doing that. We’ve got a good enough squad to deal with those kinds of situations.
“If the team is all together and fit, there will be more competition for places throughout the whole team. That can only be a positive for the whole squad.”
Although a number of key players are not available for selection, spirits around the club were raised when captain Steven Gerrard recently returned after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring issue.
The skipper completed 30 minutes against Hull City on New Year’s Day and featured for 77 minutes, as Oldham Athletic was beaten in the FA Cup last weekend.
Mignolet explained the importance of the No. 8′s comeback.
“Everybody knows what Steven is about. If he is in the dressing room, it’s a totally different picture than if he’s not there,” he said.
“Everybody is pleased that he is back and that he can do his job again for us on the pitch, and also off the pitch — because that’s where he is also very important for us.”
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com