Jordan Henderson has discussed his changing roles for Liverpool and England, believing he is able to provide “something different” in a more advanced position.
The captain switched to a regular duty as a No. 6 under Jurgen Klopp in 2016/17, which saw him replicate this on the international stage with the Three Lions.
But the arrival of Fabinho last summer has seen Henderson take up a variety of roles this campaign, with the Brazilian’s standing as a world-class defensive midfielder often seeing our No. 14 move further forward.
Reminiscent of the position that saw him earn his £20 million move to Merseyside as a 20-year-old in 2011, this has allowed him to utilise his energy and passing ability closer to the penalty area.
England’s 5-0 win over the Czech Republic on Friday night saw him start the game in this role, before moving deeper following an injury to Eric Dier.
And speaking in Montenegro ahead of the final Euro 2020 qualifier of this international break Henderson reflected on his ability to operate across the midfield, and how he enjoys being “a bit more advanced”:
Over the last couple of years, my role has changed within the team, at Liverpool more. I’ve adapted to that and improved.
“I can do that role, but prior to that I was a bit more offensive, box to box. I can do both roles.
“I enjoyed being a bit more advanced the other night [against the Czech Republic], and I can contribute in the final third a lot more than I did.
“But I can do the defensive role, the No. 6 role, and be disciplined and protect.
“It’s about what the manager asks me to do. That’s what I focus on. I enjoyed the other night, and I dropped back when Eric was injured.
“I also feel I can be a bit more advanced and give something different in that role as well.”
Henderson’s flexibility, and his experience of now operating as a No. 6, makes him a very useful option for both Klopp and Gareth Southgate.
This is particularly the case if he is not considered first choice for that role by either Liverpool or England, as could well be the case given Dier started deepest last week.
Fabinho is cemented as the key man in the Reds’ engine room, which leaves Henderson vying with the likes of Gini Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, James Milner and Adam Lallana for a place further forward.
Henderson’s claim he can offer “something different” there is certainly valid, and he has performed well as a No. 8 when called upon this campaign.
His development follows a welcome theme in Klopp’s squad, as there are few specialist positions in the manager’s system beyond the back line.