Belfast Telegraph

Sunderland v Liverpool: Jordan Henderson won't let old pals off hook

By Damian Spellman

Jordan Henderson is backing Sam Allardyce to keep home-town club Sunderland in the Premier League - but is determined to pile on the misery on his return to the Stadium of Light.

The 25-year-old Liverpool skipper and his team-mates head to Wearside this evening determined to build upon their 1-0 victory over Leicester by condemning the Black Cats to a fifth successive defeat.

Henderson came through the ranks at Sunderland before earning a £16million switch to Anfield in June 2011, but he will have only one aim in mind this week.

Asked about Allardyce, he said: "He's a good enough manager to keep them up, but the only thing that will be on my mind will be to get the three points."

Liverpool's win over the Foxes was their first in five in all competitions and followed a shock 3-0 defeat at promoted Watford.

Henderson admitted the Reds had to play clever football to see off Leicester, and he is expecting to have to do much the same at Sunderland if they are to prosper once again.

He said: "We need to be more clever. With the conditions at Watford and the wind, we tried to over-play at times and that sort of killed us.

"We need to play more clever football, which is what we did against Leicester by playing in behind their defence more, and that gave us a platform.

"We will have to be clever again at Sunderland because it will be a difficult game for us."

The Boxing Day victory was secured by striker Christian Benteke's first league goal since October after he came off the bench to replace the injured Divock Origi.

With Daniel Sturridge, like Origi, recovering from a hamstring problem, the Belgium international could get the nod this time around, and Henderson is hoping the end of his drought will provide a welcome boost.

He said: "All strikers want to be scoring goals and I am sure that one will give him confidence."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, is in no doubt his players have plenty of talent and character but wants them to develop some consistency.

Since Klopp took over in October, Liverpool's record in the league shows four victories - including impressive triumphs at Chelsea and Manchester City - plus three draws and three defeats.

And as he looked ahead to tonight's game against the Black Cats, the German said: "There's no doubt about the individual quality of the players, there's no doubt about the character.

"What we have to create is a stable level of performance.

"Now the next station is Sunderland and we have to go there and be concentrated from the first second, like we were against Leicester.

"(It was) a really good start in that game and now we have to do it again. That's the thing. If we do this, then we can get results in a row. But there are no presents, we have to work for it."

Klopp, whose side are 10th in the table, has emphasised the importance of securing three points against Sunderland rather than trying to "show how football should be".

And he is confident his men will take the right mental approach as they face a side currently struggling in second-bottom place.

"Now we have to play against Sunderland and we don't want to go there and show how football should be," Klopp said.

"We'll go there and want to win - that's what we have to show."

Liverpool are likely to be without Origi. Klopp has admitted it would take a "miracle'' for Origi to recover from the hamstring injury he suffered during the Leicester contest and he is expected to join frontman Sturridge on the sidelines.

Jordon Ibe has returned to training after illness, but fellow midfielder James Milner is still out with a calf injury.

Belfast Telegraph


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