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Former Sunderland midfielder hoping for World Cup recall
JORDAN HENDERSON is targeting a place in England's World Cup squad after claiming he is now a much better player than the one that left Sunderland.
Henderson has taken time to settle into his new surrounds since making a £20m move to Liverpool in June 2011, but the current campaign has been his most successful yet as he has become a permanent fixture in Brendan Rodgers' first team.
Saturday's start at St James' Park means he is one of just four Premier League ever-presents in the Liverpool squad, and he has appeared as a right wing-back as well as a central midfielder.
Having made his senior England debut in the 2010 friendly against France and appeared in two of England's matches at Euro 2012, Henderson is one of the fringe players hoping to break into Roy Hodgson's squad for next summer's World Cup finals.
He did not feature in any of the qualifiers, but his versatility means he could yet prove a valuable option as Hodgson attempts to prepare for every eventuality in Brazil.
“Everyone wants to play for England and I'm no different in that,” said Sunderland-born Henderson, who attended Farringdon Community Sports College before joining the Black Cats' academy on a full-time basis. “I've still got a long way to go to get to where I want to be, and I still think I need to improve as a player.
“But if I continue to do that and I keep playing well for Liverpool, then hopefully I will get an opportunity to play for England again.
“Either way, I think I am a 100 per cent better player than the one that left Sunderland. If I look at my game when I was younger, then the difference from a few years ago when I was at Sunderland is massive.
“I think I have improved enormously and hopefully I can maintain that improvement. I definitely think I am improving all the time in this team.”
The 23-year-old could hardly wish for a better mentor, as he trains alongside England skipper Steven Gerrard, who scored his 100th Premier League goal when he converted a first-half penalty against Newcastle.
Gerrard's goal capped a fine week that saw him star in England's Wembley wins over Montenegro and Poland, and while next summer's World Cup is expected to be his last, Henderson expects the 33-year-old to be starring on the Premier League stage for a fair while yet.
“I look around at him and think, 'He must be my age',” he said. “He is up and down the pitch all day long. The way he is playing, he could still have another ten years ahead of him.
“He has got so much football left because he is so fit, but that's just because he has done it right all his life. He is always there after training in the gym, he has looked after his body and you can see the benefit of it now.
“I see him every day and it is an absolute honour to be training and playing with him. I learn a lot of things from him every single day. Hopefully, I will carry on picking things up because it helps my game.”
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