Rodgers hails Henderson credentials
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers hailed Jordan Henderson as a natural leader for the future after watching his side edge to a 1-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Henderson has already been made vice-captain with a view to replacing Steven Gerrard when the former England midfielder departs to join Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the current campaign.
And Rodgers is becoming increasingly convinced that former Sunderland star Henderson is the player best equipped to fill that considerable hole and lead the next generation at the club.
Rodgers said: "I've obviously made him a vice-captain of the club and he has really grown, not just as a footballer but as a young lad.
"You saw his quality today - his leadership and his power. He is a fantastic young man and that was the reason for giving him it.
"When Steven isn't on the field he is a real leader for us and there is no question he can go on and become captain at the club."
Lazar Markovic's ninth-minute goal ultimately proved enough for Rodgers' men although Sunderland briefly rallied, despite having Liam Bridcutt sent off four minutes into the second half for a second bookable offence.
Lacking the impact of Gerrard, who was removed at half-time as a precautionary measure after complaining of a tight hamstring, the visitors failed to make the game safe and were almost made to pay when Adam Johnson lashed a long-range effort against the underside of the bar.
Rodgers added: "I thought we were outstanding in the first half and had real control of the game. We hit the crossbar and should have had a penalty and had one or two other chances.
"We started the second half well but the sending-off threw us a little bit for 10 minutes. As long as it's only 1-0, you're always tentative but defensively I thought we were excellent under pressure."
Beleaguered Sunderland boss Gus Poyet criticised the inconsistency of referee Craig Pawson, who dismissed Bridcutt for two bookable offences but did not react to similar offences involving Reds midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
Poyet said: "The foul (by Bridcutt) stopped an attack and if I'm being honest it could have been a yellow card.
"But by the same rule Coutinho should also have had two yellow cards. You cannot pick and choose - you either referee by the rules or by common sense, and I think the referee picked when he was going to referee by the rules and when by common sense, and that is not acceptable."
The Black Cats' defeat extended a dismal run which has seen them fail to pick up a single home league win since October, but Poyet begged for the patience of supporters who expressed their displeasure at the final whistle.
Poyet added: "We are trying and I think they (the fans) need to accept reality - I think they should look at what has been going on for four or five years and I think they should be a little more patient now.
"It's true that we don't give them too much and it's unfair to ask the fans for anything - we have to make sure we give them a few wins at home so they can enjoy them.
"We need to be positive. I think we lost the first 45 minutes of a very important game and when you do that against a team like Liverpool, normally you get punished - then we tried and played better when we were down to 10 men.
"But on the day it was not enough so it is a good way of learning that you cannot give too much away in a game like this."