Jordan Henderson Relishes Challenge
Jordan Henderson has told his critics to bring it on.
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Henderson insisted he relished the digs about his performances since he joined Liverpool because it made him even more determined to prove the doubters wrong.
The 21-year-old admitted he initially struggled to cope with the criticism but had become "more of a man", allowing him to shrug off claims he did not deserve to be part of England's European Championship squad.
"Maybe at the start of the season, I needed to deal with the increased scrutiny that comes with playing for Liverpool a little bit better," Henderson said.
"But I wouldn't want it any other way now.
"I think I've taken it quite well and it's the way I like it to be.
"I would rather have people criticising. It gives you that little bit more incentive to go and prove them wrong.
"I think more about what the manager at Liverpool and my team-mates think or the manager and the players with England.
"It's more important what they think, so there's no criticism that has stuck but I know when I don't play well and when I know when I play well.
"I am very critical of myself so I need to be a little bit more confident at times."
Henderson found himself branded a waste of money this season after moving to Liverpool from Sunderland for a fee in the region of £17million.
"At times, I have done quite well and been pleased," said the midfielder, who scored just two goals during the campaign.
"At different times, I have been disappointed with my performances and the way I have played.
"But I am going to come across that. That is part and parcel of football. I have to deal with that and that will help me to improve in the future.
"I have had a lot of great experiences even in this past year and it has made me more of a man and I am looking forward to keeping on playing and contributing to the team."
Henderson was originally on the standby list for England's Euro 2012 squad, something that provoked a backlash in itself.
That only grew when Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry were ruled out injured and Henderson was called up as replacement.
He said: "When I wasn't in the squad, you don't expect the call-up but, fortunately, I have been given the chance and I have just got to do the best I can.
"Anyone that is in an England squad, it is a massive achievement.
"I am delighted to be in but I am not just here to be on the sidelines and watch.
"I want to make sure I train well and, if needed, I am there and I am ready."
Henderson's services have already been required for the final 13 minutes of Monday's opening 1-1 draw with France.
And with manager Roy Hodgson expressing doubts over Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker's ability to play every four days, the youngster could have a very big part to play indeed in Poland and Ukraine.
Henderson insisted he was ready to do so but was not expecting Parker - who he replaced on Monday - to be making way any time soon.
"Scott is fit enough to recover really well and be ready for the Sweden game," he said.
"He trained a little bit today and was fine. So I'm sure he will be fine for the next game."
If not, Henderson faces the biggest test of his career.
And having been judged on his performances playing largely on the right of midfield this season, he would also have a chance to prove himself in his preferred position.
He said: "A lot of people have said that. I think, probably, they are just protecting me.
"I think I should be able to play both positions.
"I have played on the right quite a lot now so I should be able to do that just as well, but given the chance in the middle, hopefully I can do a good job there as well."