NA­TIONAL SER­VICE

UEFA Na­tions League - Group A4: Loyal Hen­der­son will not be tak­ing foot off the gas in new com­pe­ti­tion

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - Paul Hether­ing­ton

JOR­DAN HEN­DER­SON wouldn’t nor­mally dis­agree with his Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp.

The An­field skip­per even ad­mit­ted: “Jur­gen does ev­ery­thing and we fol­low him. More of­ten than not we do as he says.”

But Hen­der­son begs to dif­fer with his Ger­man gaffer when it comes to the UEFA Na­tions League, in which Eng­land play Spain to­mor­row night af­ter Fri­day’s 0-0 draw in Croa­tia in the same com­pe­ti­tion.

Klopp’s blunt assess­ment of the in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment was: “It is the most sense­less com­pe­ti­tion in the world.”

But Hen­der­son, with his Eng­land cap on, sees things dif­fer­ently.

The Three Li­ons mid­fielder, 28, said: “As a player you want to win ev­ery game, even if it’s a friendly and, for us, the Na­tions League is im­por­tant.

“That’s be­cause it has an ef­fect on the groups and the seed­ings at the Eu­ros in two years.

“And it’s im­por­tant for us to play and try to win against big na­tions like Spain.

“It’s im­por­tant that we go to the next level. It’s a good chal­lenge and an im­por­tant chal­lenge for us to prove we can do that.

“As a team, af­ter reach­ing the semi-fi­nals at the World Cup, we feel we have to go to the next level and com­pete against Spain, France, Croa­tia and teams like that.

“We want to win those kind of games.

“There is still a way for us to go to get where we want to be – and that’s to be the best team in the world.

“Spain have a fan­tas­tic squad of play­ers. Sack­ing their man­ager –

Julen Lopetegui – just be­fore the

World Cup must have had some kind of im­pact on them and they didn’t do as well in

Rus­sia as you would have thought.

“But to get to the

No.1 spot you have got to beat the best teams and

Spain are in that cat­e­gory.”

Spain, the 2010 win­ners, went out on spot­kicks to Rus­sia in the Round of 16. Since then, though, they have beaten Croa­tia 6-0, Eng­land 2-1 and Wales 4-1. Eng­land need a re­sult to­mor­row in Seville af­ter se­cur­ing just a point in their two Na­tions League matches, though they hit the wood­work twice in the stale­mate in Ri­jeka. Hen­der­son picked up a sixth-minute book­ing and will miss out in Spain through sus­pen­sion.

It is eight years ago next month that the Liver­pool cap­tain, then with home­town team Sun­der­land, made his Eng­land de­but against France at Wem­b­ley.

He lined up along­side Kieran Gibbs, Joleon Lescott and Andy Car­roll in a 2-1 de­feat.

Now he is one of the se­nior play­ers at in­ter­na­tional level un­der Gareth South­gate and at club level for Klopp (be­low). Hen­der­son, with a laugh, said: “You are mak­ing me feel old! Do

I feel like a dif­fer­ent per­son eight years on? Yes and no.

“I still feel quite young – un­til you start reel­ing off things like that. But it’s been an in­ter­est­ing eight years and I feel as if I have grown as a per­son and a player.

“I’ve loved ev­ery minute but I still feel as if I’m the same per­son. “And I still feel like I’m 20, but in other ways I re­ally have come on leaps and bounds and matured.

“My ad­vice to the young lads in the squad would be to be your­self and to ex­press your­self. Have no fear. “But it is made eas­ier for the young ones com­ing in by the se­nior lads who are here. “It is pos­i­tive to have so much com­pe­ti­tion – I have that at Liver­pool and with Eng­land. “If you are not be­ing pushed you will get left be­hind.”

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