Lu­cas backs Kop’s Red Hend to come good

Midweek Sport - - TV GUIDE - By RAY WATTS

LIVER­POOL mid­fielder Lu­cas Leiva has sprung to the de­fence of new sign­ing Jor­dan Hen­der­son by telling crit­ics the Eng­land Un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional must be given time to set­tle in.

Hen­der­son has started seven of eight matches this sea­son, only sit­ting out last week’s Car­ling Cup win at Brighton, but has strug­gled to make his mark even though he scored his first Reds goal against Bolton last month.

He has been sub­sti­tuted four times al­ready, with a num­ber of per­for­mances bor­der­ing on the anony­mous, and that has led to some crit­i­cism of the 21-year-old.

Lu­cas knows only too well what Hen­der­son is go­ing through.

Af­ter ar­riv­ing from Gremio in 2007 for £5mil­lion, the Brazil­ian quickly be­came a tar­get for fans to vent their frus­tra­tion.

But he has turned things around in im­pres­sive fash­ion in the last two sea­sons since the de­par­ture of cen­tral mid­field heavy­weights Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascher­ano.

Po­ten­tial

And now Lu­cas has backed Hen­der­son – who left his only pre­vi­ous pro­fes­sional club Sun­der­land in a £16mil­lion sum­mer deal – to do the same.

“I don’t blame the young play­ers be­cause I’ve been in their place for a few years,” said the Brazil in­ter­na­tional.

“He is English and knows the Premier League, but to come to such a big club like Liver­pool is re­ally hard.

“I think he has played well and some­times you get con­fi­dence when you get more min­utes and un­der­stand the role you have to do.

“We have to en­cour- age him and try to give him con­fi­dence to keep im­prov­ing.

“We can see he has po­ten­tial to be a good player, but he is still very young and we have to give him time and be pa­tient and I am sure he will be a good player.

“Ev­ery­one has their own opin­ions and char­ac­ter, but we can see in the train­ing ses­sions he likes to work and that is the main thing.

“When you work hard the op­por­tu­ni­ties will come and he will be ready to take them.

“Don’t rush him a lot, give him time to set­tle and I am sure he will be a good player in the fu­ture.”

SOAR­ING SUC­CESS: Cech has full con­fi­dence in his head­gear

STRUG­GLING TO MAKE AN IM­PACT: Hen­der­son

SUP­PORT: Lu­cas

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