Jordan Henderson’s 196 minutes a valuable fast-track for Liverpool

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It wasn’t a quick road back to fitness for Jordan Henderson but his time with England offers Liverpool a valuable head start for the upcoming campaign.

Unfortunately, the summer did not end with confetti and a trophy for Henderson but it did come to a conclusion with a clean bill of health and 196 minutes under his belt.

And that’ll be music to Jurgen Klopp‘s ears.

It’s not been the smoothest of times for the Liverpool captain in regards to injuries, but his complete adductor avulsion back in February required every ounce of perseverance to recover from.

Surgery on Henderson’s groin made for a three-to-four-month recovery timeline, it ended his Liverpool season but left the door slightly ajar to represent England in the summer.

He had the will to do all it took to push it wide open and complete his rehab, including late nights and early mornings and training sessions with the under-18s.

It culminated in a place on the bench in the final game vs. Crystal Palace and the captain could finally wipe the sweat off his brow, but he still had to prove to Gareth Southgate that he could count on him throughout Euro 2020.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson applauds the supporters during a lap of honour after the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0 and finished 3rd in the table. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Pushing an injury scare aside after feeling discomfort, a 45-minute appearance in a warmup friendly win over Romania at the start of June would be his first taste of action in three-and-a-half months.

There would be trepidation over his capacity as Southgate acknowledged “how much football he’s missed,” but there would never be any doubts over what he could bring to a young England side.

While Henderson would not start a single game, consistent team training and 151 minutes of Euro 2020 action would be the hallmark for the 31-year-old in moving past his injury.

And while the Three Lions would invariably rely more on his professionalism, experience and leadership off the field than on it, his summer is to be invaluable for Liverpool.

Many would have been right to feel trepidation for the No. 14 as international football, with England in particular, doesn’t have a kind track record with injuries for Reds.

England's Jordan Henderson during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Tuesday June 22, 2021.

But as Henderson arrived with England off the back of a long spell on the sidelines, there was a different upside that Liverpool could take advantage of, match fitness.

While the skipper would have still been putting in the hard yards over the summer months had he not been selected for international duty, one cannot replicate the intensity and physicality that comes with competitive action.

And the midfielder had not seen any since injury struck against Everton on February 20, and had he never been selected or played for his country nearly six months would have come and gone without a match.

But the Czech Republic, Germany, Ukraine, Denmark and Italy would all serve as valuable tools in building Henderson back where he needs to be for Liverpool for the upcoming season.

Henderson showed his typical signs of energy, drive and passing range for England but his peak 46-minutes of action ensures Liverpool’s first task is to build him back to a consistent 90-minute player, with his last full-game coming on February 16.

ROME, ITALY - JULY 03: England's Jordan Henderson celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Ukraine and England at Olimpico Stadium on July 03, 2021 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Chris Ricco - UEFA)

But he has added a layer on top of his initial foundations and with just a three-week holiday before reuniting with his teammates in Austria, he will not have lost his physical conditioning.

The delayed return isn’t ideal as just 12 days after his return Liverpool will travel to Carrow Road for their Premier League opener, but they will do so with a match-sharp Henderson.

That he can hit the ground running will serve as another feel-good factor heading into the season, one that is already high with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold nearing their returns.

And so while it may not have felt ideal so soon after an injury, Henderson’s England call-up has served as a hugely beneficial warm-up for what is an important season ahead, where we hope to see the Henderson trophy shuffle at least once.

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