Steven Gerrard welcomes Henderson signing

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes new signing Jordan Henderson has the ability to succeed him as the team's driving force.

The Reds completed the signing of Henderson from Sunderland last night in a deal thought to be worth around £20million.

Gerrard has been the heartbeat of the Reds' midfield for more than a decade but the Anfield hero feels the highly-rated 20-year-old Henderson could prove his natural replacement.

Gerrard, 31, told the club's website, "It's a really positive signing. Let's hope he is the next Steven Gerrard.

"That's what good football clubs do - they replace their best players. Liverpool needs a new Steven Gerrard and it will need a new Jamie Carragher.

"I saw Jordan at first hand for two or three days with England and he is a good player with energy."

Henderson, who won an England cap against France last November, will increase competition for central midfield places in a squad that already includes Lucas, Jay Spearing, Raul Meireles and Christian Poulsen, as well as Gerrard.

Gerrard missed the end of last season after undergoing groin surgery but has every intention of fighting back to full fitness for the start of the next campaign.

He said: "I have confidence in what I can do. I am going to be in the best condition physically going into this season that I have been for the last 10 years.

"I am working doubly hard on my body, on my core and on strengthening my groin, which I have suffered with.

"The operation went well and I have nearly double the strength in the groin now than before. The physios at Liverpool are measuring that on a weekly basis and the results show that.

"I know I will be rusty in friendlies but I have confidence that I am going to be the freshest I have been, both mentally and physically, for a long, long time."

Gerrard, who has taken up yoga to build up his strength, has not played since the Reds' memorable Barclays Premier League win over eventual champions Manchester United on March 6.

Without him his team-mates finished the season strongly and almost snatched a Europa League spot until losing their final two games to Tottenham and Aston Villa.

"I've not kicked a ball for a long time, probably the longest I have gone in my career, and I can't wait to get back now," Gerrard added.

"I am excited about playing under Kenny Dalglish, just like the team did at the end of the season, which was going forward.

"We were playing with bottle and character and going all out to beat teams. And that always suits my style of playing."