Brendan Rodgers has given the strongest hint yet that Jordan Henderson will take the armband when current skipper Steven Gerrard leaves Liverpool.
Gerrard will end his long association with the Merseyside giants at the end of the season, when his contract expires and he heads off to the United States to link up with LA Galaxy. The former England captain has been the Reds leader since 2003, when he replaced Sami Hyypia, and has led them to 10 major honours including, most famously, the 2005 UEFA Champions League.
Henderson, a £20million signing from Sunderland during Kenny Dalglish’s second reign as manager at Anfield, was named vice-captain by Rodgers ahead of the current campaign. And following the 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, the Liverpool manager has given the strongest indication yet that he believes the 24-year-old is ready to succeed his midfield pal.
“I’ve obviously made him a vice-captain of the club and he has really grown, not just as a footballer but as a young lad,” he said. “You saw his quality today – his leadership and his power. He is a fantastic young man and that was the reason for giving him it. When Steven isn’t on the field he is a real leader for us and there is no question he can go on and become captain at the club.”
Since arriving from the North East in the summer of 2011, Henderson has gone on to make 160 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions. He has also established himself as a regular in the England squad, and now has 18 international caps to his name, which include the 2-1 defeats to both Italy and Uruguay during the disastrous World Cup Finals campaign in Brazil last year.
Meanwhile, the 1-0 win against the Black Cats ensures Rodgers’ side maintain their push for a top-four finish this season. Last season’s Premier League runners-up are eighth in the current standings, yet they are only four points behind fourth-placed Southampton who travel to Manchester United on Sunday. Aston Villa provide the opposition at Anfield next Saturday afternoon.
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