'A massive game' says skipper
Jamie Bradbury in Middlesbrough
Tuesday, 28 February, 2012
Jordan Henderson turns his attentions to England after League Cup win.
Jordan Henderson didn’t have much time to celebrate after helping Liverpool win the League Cup on Sunday.
Soon after the trophy presentation he, along with team mates Martin Kelly and Jonjo Shelvey, were heading from Wembley Stadium to Middlesbrough to meet up with England Under-21s.
The Young Lions skipper says celebrations can go ahead in May when the season has finished, but for now he’s focused on his next task – leading England to victory over Belgium at the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday night.
“I did not sleep very much,” revealed the midfielder. “We got here [to Middlesbrough] very late but I feel good. It was an amazing day for everyone involved.
"It was a bit strange everyone going their separate ways immediately after the Cup final but I suppose the most important thing for me is Wednesday. There will be plenty more time to celebrate when the season is finished.
"It was a very emotional time for everyone. The fans were amazing and just being part of it was an unbelievable feeling. Obviously, it is a great experience for anyone to play a cup final. The atmosphere was brilliant. I will remember everything about it, I think. Take it on and help my career as well.
He added: "A lot of the time (as a kid) you watch cup finals and want to be part of a winning team and now I have been fortunate to be part of one.”
On Wednesday, England take on the Belgians in their first game of 2012, but a defeat away in Belgium in their last outing means that this fixture is a top of the table game, with the visitors looking to narrow England’s lead in the group to just one point.
However, victory for the Three Lions will see them take pole position for a place in October’s Euro 2013 play-offs with just two games left to play.
And it will also be a return to the north-east for the former Sunderland man, who made the switch from the Stadium of Light to Anfield last June.
“It is a massive game on Wednesday,” he said. “We have to make sure we do it properly and win the game, which will take us into a really strong position in the group. So if we prepare properly over the next couple of days, I am sure we will do well.
"We were unfortunate not to win the last game or at least get something out of it. We played some good stuff at times and created some chances, but it was not our day.
“You get knocks in football and you have to bounce back and we must do that this week. I am captain of the side and have to go and lead by example and help the team win.”
Henderson, who earned his first England Senior cap against France in November 2010, is targeting a future return to the full team. Although Under-21s Head Coach Stuart Pearce stepped in to take the reins against Holland at Wembley he’s not disappointed about missing out on a call-up.
"Obviously, everyone wants to play in the Senior Team, and I am no different. But this is a massive game for the Under-21s.
"I spoke to Stuart when the squad was announced a week ago and he just said, ‘make sure the boys are OK and do it right’.
"He has been a very big influence on my career and helped me in many ways so I cannot thank him enough.”
Tickets for England's meeting with Belgium on Wednesday 29 February 2012 (6pm ko) are still on sale. Call 0844 499 1234, buy online at www.mfc.co.uk or in person at the Riverside ticket office.