Adam Lallana has hailed the immediate difference Jordan Henderson has already made to the team after recovering from an injury that saw him miss the end of last season.
The Reds skipper was sidelined for the club’s crucial Champions League run in and has not played competitively for the first team since Liverpool’s match against Tottenham on February 11.
He has since returned for full pre-season training, most recently featuring in Wednesday’s 2-0 Asia Trophy win over Crystal Palace in Hong Kong.
Lallana has welcomed back his close friend and tipped him to become a key player again for Jurgen Klopp’s men next season.
“It’s great having him back. It’s no secret that we’re best of mates. We’ve missed him massively, not just his quality but his role and his role in the group,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.
“Having him back in the last few games, everyone has seen the class he brings. He brings the best out in the rest of the team when he’s on the pitch.”
“He’ll be the first to admit he’s still got a long way to get back to where he wants to be in terms of a player and his form, but that’s just normal. It’s just great to have him in and among the place and back on the pitch.”
Henderson saw his best period in a Liverpool shirt cruelly halted midway through last season with the 27-year-old having moulded into an influential and reliable figure at the heart of the team’s midfield, not to mention fully justifying his place as captain.
While Sadio Mane’s departure for the African Cup of Nations hurt Liverpool dearly following the turn of the year, Henderson’s absence was a similarly crushing blow and recognised just how valuable he has become under Klopp.
The drastic rise of Emre Can in the final stages of last season along with the notable importance of both Georginio Wijnaldum and Lallana himself means Henderson faces another big season, in which even he will be forced to fight for a place.
That said, it can be argued that Henderson at his very best walks straight into the first team under Klopp.
It’s good to have you back, skip.