Jordan Henderson heaps praise on former manager Roy Keane

The Liverpool midfielder was given his debut at Sunderland under current Irish assistant

Jordan Henderson says he "can never really repay" Irish assistant coach Roy Keane for giving him his first team debut with Sunderland seven years ago.

Now one of a young England team's only regulars, and the probable Liverpool captain for the 2016 season, Henderson says he's indebted to his former Sunderland manager.

The 24-year-old will line out against the former Irish captain’s team when England visit the Aviva this Sunday, and Henderson hopes to get an opportunity to catch up after the game with the man who gave him his big breakthrough back in 2008.

“Roy was a huge part of me getting my chance as a footballer,” Henderson said.

“He gave me my debut at Sunderland and had a huge impact. I can never really repay him for that.

“To work under him, knowing what he was as a player was amazing, really. Hopefully there will be time to see him after the game.

“He taught me a lot. I was a young lad coming into the first team and didn’t tell me specifics but he could see how hard I worked. I hope he saw a bit of quality in there too. I can never repay him for giving me an opportunity.”

Henderson also says he also hopes his Liverpool and England team-mate Raheem Sterling commits his future to the Anfield club soon.

Sterling’s contract dispute with Liverpool took a bitter twist last month when his representative Aidy Ward allegedly claimed the young forward was determined to leave the club.

Representative

Ward reportedly said in an interview with the London Evening Standard that his client would not accept a new contract at Liverpool, even if the club offered him £900,000 a week.

Ward later denied making those comments but there are no signs that contract negotiations with the forward are progressing well.

Despite interest in Sterling from Manchester City, Henderson still harbours hope his team-mate will remain at Liverpool though.

“He’s obviously left (his future) to whoever’s representing him in regards to what he wants to do,” Henderson said.

“But for me Raheem Sterling is a fantastic player and he’s been brilliant for England, I hope he will stay at Liverpool.”

Liverpool cancelled contract talks with Sterling in the final week of the season and manager Brendan Rodgers criticised Ward for his conduct.

Some Liverpool fans made their feelings towards Sterling known on the final day of the campaign when they heckled him from the stands in the warm-up before the Reds’ embarrassing 6-1 defeat at Stoke.

Henderson has defended his team-mate, though, insisting he is a “great professional.”

The Liverpool midfielder said: “One thing I love about him is that he’s a great person and a great lad.

“He’s getting a lot of criticism because of the contract situation, but he’s first-class as a person, all the lads love him whether it’s with England or Liverpool.

“He’s a great professional. His work ethic is fantastic. He works as hard as he can and wants to improve all the time.”

Liverpool have ploughed on with their plans for next season despite the dispute with Sterling.

Free agent

The Reds pulled off a big coup on Thursday when they announced they had signed James Milner on a free transfer.

Manchester City had offered Milner an improved contract to stay at the Etihad Stadium, but the 29-year-old opted to move to Liverpool instead.

“It’s a fantastic signing,” Henderson said of Milner, who has 53 England caps.

“His attitude on and off the field is first-class. You know you’ll get energy from him.

“He’s a quality player. I watched a lot of City players last year and he contributes a lot with assists and goals. He’s got a lot of ability. And he does a lot of the dirty work as well.

“I look forward to playing with him next season.”

Meanwhile Henderson’s former club Sunderland have raised through their fans over £2,000 to buy flowers for Dick Advocaat’s wife after the Dutch manager had a change of heart and decided to stay with the club.

Advocaat kept the Mackems up after succeeding Gus Poyet on a short-term deal but at the age of 67 he had promised his wife he would retire this summer.

The initial aim was to raise £150 for a bouquet of flowers on the gofundme website but at the time of writing that had far exceeded expectations.

The fans have promised to split the surplus between the SAFC Foundation and a charity of Mrs Advocaat’s choice.