ROY HODGSON will find it difficult to ignore Jordan Henderson if the former Sunderland midfielder continues his progress at Liverpool.
That’s the view of Black Cats caretaker boss Kevin Ball, as he prepares to lock horns with the player who he helped to shape at the Academy of Light.
Henderson endured a difficult first season at Anfield after his £19million move from Sunderland, but after forcing his way into Brendan Rodgers’ plans last year, he has started all five of Liverpool’s Premier League games this time around.
Ball, who is still regularly in contact with the 23-year-old, took charge of Henderson when he was coming through Sunderland’s ranks in the Under-18 side.
And he believes Henderson is now on an upward curve which could eventually see him recalled to the England fold after his last senior appearance came at the 2012 European Championships.
Ball told the Echo: “When he first went to Liverpool, it was always going to be difficult.
“The expectations of him were HUGE and everybody assumed straightaway that he was going to be this star player, for the amount of money they paid.
“It’s only now they’re starting to see how good he is and I honestly think he’ll get better and better.
“I think if he carries on the way he is, I think it would be a disappointment if he didn’t get back in the England squad.
“Mr Hodgson has got that choice, but if he keeps doing what he’s doing, it would make it very difficult not to pick him.”
He added: “I’d always want him to do well because if he does well, we’ve got to do better to beat him.
“Whenever there’s an opportunity to watch Jordan on telly, I do it.
“I still speak to him, we’ll text each other, so it’s great from our point of view to see how well he’s progressed.
“I think you’ll see Jordan get stronger and stronger.”
Henderson is one of two Sunderland old boys returning to Wearside this weekend, with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet making his first appearance against the Black Cats since his £11m summer exit.
“From Simon’s point of view, he’ll no doubt get an unbelievable reception because he was fabulous during his time here,” added Ball.
“You want these players to do well, but you still want to win. It’s a double-edged sword, but that’s life.”