Jordan Henderson: it’s time for the kids to step forward for England

Midfielder says new generation can replace Gerrard and Lampard

Chief football correspondent

It was left to the young generation yesterday to assure the world that the England team have a future, 70 days after the squad left Brazil behind and their summer of pain at the World Cup.

For Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling, Brazil was their first experience of an England World Cup and – like so many before them – it behoved these two young men to look forward rather than back, to what the Football Association desperately hopes will be a happier future. Henderson acknowledged that it was time his generation stepped “up to the plate” and this time there really is no alternative.

The Liverpool midfielder is being spoken of as a potential future captain and at 24, with 13 caps, and the retirement of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, there are few more experienced options left. Sterling is a prodigious talent, still a teenager, but the changes being wrought on the team mean that his growing-up will have to be done on the pitch.

It starts tomorrow against Norway at Wembley, a low-key friendly for the new era, although the stakes will be raised considerably come Monday and the first Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland in Basel. At Roy Hodgson’s session at the Arsenal training ground yesterday, there were just 13 players on the pitch – with those who played on Sunday or carrying minor injuries excused.

This time the change is enforced upon Hodgson, who will appear in front of the press today for the first time with his new captain, Wayne Rooney. The England manager has no option but to place his trust in some of his younger players, with the second most-capped player in the squad after Rooney being James Milner with 48 appearances for his country. “Now I think it is for the younger lads to step up,” Henderson said. “They have to show just what they have to offer and what they have to give for the team.”

The memories of the World Cup, however, linger on but Henderson said that the response he had encountered from the English football public on returning home had been largely encouraging.

“There is no hiding away from that, as players, it should have been a lot better,” he said. “We have to go out there, show we deserve to be in the England team and show people how good we are and how much we really care. I feel there was a lot of negativity after the World Cup and everyone was very down. The message I got was always: ‘Keep your head up, keep going’.”

Sterling, like Henderson, was positive about the numbers of elite-level English players, in spite of the statistics pointing to the reduced numbers of English footballers in the biggest Premier League teams. “I wouldn’t say the pool is getting smaller,” Sterling said. “There are a lot of talented players in the youth system. It’s a matter of them getting a chance to play.”

Asked how many of England’s current squad would hypothetically merit a place in Germany’s team, Henderson declined to answer but said reaching the level of the world champions was not an impossibility for English players.

“There are a lot of players who could get to that level with the right mentality and the right coaching, so I think it’s still bright in my eyes. I am still very optimistic about what we can achieve. I know everyone around us will criticise us but we believe we are good players, we can improve. That is what we are going to try and do.”

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album