FORMER Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson was happy to give his old team-mates at the Stadium of Light a timely boost by helping hit Newcastle United for six.

Henderson scored a goal in each half and created another for Daniel Sturridge to push Liverpool towards a 6-0 win which has significantly increased the Magpies relegation concerns.

And Sunderland, who he left 18 months ago in a £20m deal, can effectively preserve Premier League status if they can win at relegation-threatened Aston Villa tonight.

Had Newcastle claimed as much as a point against Liverpool then Alan Pardew's team would have leapfrogged the Black Cats in the battle against the drop.

"I spoke to one or two Sunderland players after they won at Newcastle and they were delighted with the result. I watched that game on television," said Henderson, a boyhood Sunderland supporter brought up on Wearside.

"This was also a great result for them but the main thing is it was another good result for us to win here."

The emphatic response from Liverpool following a difficult week was not what Newcastle had been expecting after leading goalscorer Luis Suarez was hit with his ten-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

"It was a great performance from the team from start to finish," said Henderson, 22. "It was important to finish the week on a high. On a personal note, I was delighted to score the two goals as well.

"I don't think we let what has happened this week (with Luis) affect us. The players have handled it brilliantly. The attention has been diverted anywhere but football this week. But we just want to get on with our job.

"Luis is a massive player for us and has scored a lot of goals this season. We're happy when he's in the side, but weve shown that we can cope when he's missing through suspension or injuries."

The whole Suarez saga has been an unwanted distraction and Reds boss Brendan Rodgers was relieved to have ended a testing six days with a comprehensive win.

The Liverpool manager, whose side remain five points behind city rivals Everton in the race for a Europa League spot ahead of this weekend's Merseyside derby, said: "I've learned this week, once again, that I'm at an incredible club. And I've learned that no matter how good a player is, you can't do what Luis did, it's as simple as that.

"He's got his punishment, we've all accepted it and we move on. As a manager, things are just thrown at you. When you're doing your coaching courses and you're coming through as a young coach from 20 years of age, this is not the kind of scenario you read about in the manuals.

"But as a football club we stay together. We're very strong as a club. Our supporters were brilliant at Newcastle, they recognised the intense scrutiny that was on us, so to come here and deliver that kind of performance shows the character thats in this book."