JORDAN HENDERSON is convinced the arrival of Brendan Rodgers has turned him into a better footballer – and has vowed to capitalise on his first-team opportunity at Liverpool FC.
Henderson made his first Premier League start under the Northern Irishman in Sunday’s goalless draw at Swansea City.
It was a fourth appearance in five games for the 22-year-old, who impressed when emerging from the bench in the 3-0 home win against Wigan Athletic 10 days ago.
Having been a regular last season following a £16million arrival from Sunderland, Henderson has been more sparingly used since Rodgers succeeded Kenny Dalglish as manager.
But the England under-21 skipper is convinced the new manager has already made a positive influence on his game.
“Not being in the team gives me a different incentive to push on and go forward,” said Henderson.
“I think the manager has seen that I have improved since he came into the club and I need to keep doing that and prove I can play in the league.
“I came on early in the game against Wigan last week and I thought I did quite well, and I played midweek (against Young Boys) and then again at Swansea.
“It is nice to be playing games like that but I just need to make sure I keep pushing on and improving.
“I’m asked to do something a little bit different now. The manager has helped me a lot with my game and I can definitely see improvements, especially tactically, which the manager is always on about.”
Although substituted with 13 minutes remaining on Sunday, Henderson believes he didn’t harm his claims at the Liberty Stadium.
“It was my chance to get my first start, work hard and try to get forward as much as I could,” he said.
“I was happy with the way things went but I have to improve an awful lot of things.
“In the final third I need to get better, but defensively I thought I was solid and did what the manager asked.”
Henderson’s outings have been largely restricted to cup competitions, particularly in the Europa League where he has started seven of Liverpool’s nine games in the competition.
“It has been a bit different, obviously, at Sunderland and in my first season at Liverpool I played a lot of games, but I still feel as if I am learning and the manager is helping me progress my game and improve my game,” he added.
“I can see that when I am watching games back, when I am in games I feel a lot more confident, so I can definitely see improvement and I have to keep working hard, improving my game, and hopefully I will get more chances.”
Liverpool, now unbeaten in eight matches, are at Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow, where they have lost on their last five visits including a 4-0 thrashing on their most recent tip in September 2011.
The Lilywhites beat West Ham United 3-1 at the weekend to move within a point of fifth-placed Everton.
And Henderson said: “There is a lot of confidence and togetherness growing in the team.
“To be fair everybody has taken on board what the manager wants really well and I think over the last few weeks we have seen improvements and played quite well so we will look forward to Wednesday.
“I think we created a lot of chances at Swansea, especially first half. We just have to be more clinical.
“I thought we did well, we played some good stuff and the gameplan we came with worked. We just need to make sure we finish teams off
“I can definitely see the confidence growing. Everybody knows Tottenham are a good side but we are confident we can go there and get a good result.”