Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has sprung to the defence of new signing Jordan Henderson by telling critics the England U21 international must be given time to settle in.
Henderson has started seven of eight matches this season, only sitting out last week's Carling Cup win at Brighton, but has struggled to make his mark even though he scored his first Reds goal against Bolton last month.
The Brazil international said: "We can see he has potential to be a good player but he is still very young and we have to give him time and be patient and I am sure he will be a good player. Don't rush him a lot, give him time to settle and I am sure he will be a good player in the future."
Henderson, a £16 million summer capture from Sunderland, has been substituted four times already, with a number of performances bordering on the anonymous, and that has led to some criticism of the 21-year-old.
Lucas knows only too well what Henderson is going through as, having arrived from Gremio in 2007 for £5 million, he quickly became a target for fans to vent their frustration.
He has turned things around in impressive fashion in the last two seasons since the departure of central midfield heavyweights Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano and has backed Henderson to do the same.
"I don't blame the young players because I've been in their place for a few years," he said..
"He is English and knows the Premier League but to come to such a big club like Liverpool is really hard.
"I think he has played well and sometimes you get confidence when you get more minutes and understand the role you have to do.
"We have to encourage him and try to give him confidence to keep improving."
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