So although some of the headlines are about a 21-year old striker with a ponytail going missing from the England Under-21 squad, the real news is about a possible call-up for the home-grown Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson. He is very highly rated by his manager Steve Bruce (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/nov/11/jordan-henderson-england-call-up), is clearly very talented and has a great temperament. He has started every league game this season, and has really been excellent with his box-to-box movement, in just his second season in the first team.
Henderson is a fantastic prospect. He has great ball control and positional sense, an excellent awareness of the game and handles himself well, being a true team player. He has avoided the sleaziness that seems to follow some other top players around, and is mature beyond his years. Top sportsmen have one thing in common: discipline, and Henderson has had great guidance from his manager and senior Black Cats squad members such as Bo Zenden. Unlike his high-profile Geordie counterpart, he stays out of the headlines, gets on quietly with his high energy game and clearly enjoys playing for his home club in the world’s top league. He also scored a screaming volley against Romania in his last but one U-21 game.
Jordan Henderson seems to have the temperament to handle the big occasions well. The difference between talented footballers and those who become seasoned internationals is in their minds, their psychology. My prediction is that Henderson will be in Capello’s next squad against France, along with our imperious but underrated centre-back MIchael Turner.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen