Home comforts for happy Henderson

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Jordan Henderson is looking forward to being able to go out of the house again after helping to end Sunderland's alarming Barclays Premier League slump in style.

The 20-year-old England midfielder, who had found himself a target for the club's critics in the depths of their nine-game winless run, capped a fine individual display with two goals in yesterday's 4-2 victory over Wigan which all but ended their fears of relegation.

Asked how the recent criticism had affected him, Henderson said: "I don't think it has been tough, to be fair. I have got the right people around me to keep my confidence up and keep me intact. I have just been knuckling down, keeping my head down and hopefully it paid off. If we haven't won in a couple of weeks, I have to do my shopping online. I can't really go out of the house."

He added: "But that comes with football and I have got to deal with it, and I have got to be man enough to respect their opinions."

Henderson's revival could hardly have come at a better time for his home-town club after fortune appeared to have deserted them once again.

With 26 minutes of the game gone, full-back Phil Bardsley had left the field on a stretcher after being knocked unconscious by team-mate Nedum Onuoha and as he headed for hospital, striker Danny Welbeck suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

Things took a decided turn for the worse seven minutes after the break when Mohamed Diame lit up the Stadium of Light with a stunning strike. The lead lasted just three minutes thanks to Asamoah Gyan's close-range header, but the Ghana international was back in the dressing room within nine minutes after pulling up clutching his hamstring to leave Steve Bruce without a single senior striker.

It was then that Henderson took over, first controlling substitute Sully Muntari's 66th-minute cross on his chest before lashing a left-foot half-volley into the top corner, and then after emergency frontman Stephane Sessegnon had won and coolly converted a 73rd-minute penalty, accepting the Benin international's pass and stroking his second past keeper Ali Al Habsi.

Four goals in 22 minutes were more than enough to account for Wigan, who reduced the deficit at the death through substitute Franco di Santo, although that could not spoil Henderson's afternoon.

Bruce said: "It was special for him. I have only freshened him up for one week - maybe I should have freshened him up for a month. I knew that the kid was running on empty, unfortunately, and everybody in the ground plus me knew, but with the problems we had, it was impossible to leave him out."

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Stephane Sessegnon
Jordan Henderson
Premier League
Steve Bruce
Danny Welbeck
Asamoah Gyan
Nedum Onuoha
Wigan Athletic
Ali Al Habsi
Franco Di Santo
Mohamed Diame

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