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Henderson ready to make first team claim

Jordan Henderson has vowed to save his Liverpool career after admitting he was shocked at being told he could leave last summer.

• Blog: Magic hides disappointment

Henderson, 22, rejected the chance to join Fulham as part of a deal intended to bring striker Clint Dempsey to Merseyside.

Dempsey ended up joining Tottenham instead, while Henderson has been cast to the fringes at Anfield, a little over a year after his £20 million move from Sunderland.

The England international played in all but one of Liverpool's Premier League games under Kenny Dalglish last season, making 31 starts.

But he has yet to make a league start since Brendan Rodgers replaced Dalglish, with the midfielder restricted mainly to appearances in the Europa League and the Capital One Cup.

Henderson is set to feature in Liverpool's Europa League match against Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow on Thursday, and he is determined to become a regular first-teamer again.

"When the manager told me I could go to Fulham it was a bit of a shock at first," Henderson told the Daily Telegraph. "What he said came as a sort of bolt from the blue. I think the Dempsey situation had stalled, but it wasn't really of interest to me.

"I worked really hard to come to a club like Liverpool and I didn't want to leave in a hurry. I want to stay at Liverpool for as long as I can. I want to keep fighting for my place and I told the manager that. I said I wanted to stay and keep fighting because I believe I can get into the team.

"I just wanted to focus on playing for Liverpool, work hard and get myself into the team. Some people might have thought they'd rather go and play football but I said I will continue to work hard every day, keep fighting and I believe I have the ability to be in the team."

With the exception of Luis Suarez, Rodgers has made little use of the biggest signings Dalglish made as manager, selling Charlie Adam to Stoke and allowing Andy Carroll to join West Ham on a season's loan.

While Jose Enrique would probably have figured more often had he not been injured, Stewart Downing has made only one Premier League start this season, while Henderson has also been out of favour.

"I don't really listen to what people say about the signings," Henderson said. "I just focus on myself and the team, the here and now, and what I need to do.

"It's nice to come away and hopefully get an opportunity to play, so I have to make sure I do it right and perform the best I can. Hopefully then I will get into the team in the Premier League.

"It's been different from last season but I still feel I have learned a lot. The manager has helped me a lot with my game. There are certain bits I need to improve on, which I think I've done, and when I have played I think I've done well. You can see I am learning every time.

"I just have to continue to work hard and hopefully get into the team sooner rather than later. Every time I get an opportunity I have to try to take it, just give 100 per cent every day and keep fighting.

"I have spoken to the manager on numerous occasions and he has been pleased with my progress. Like I say, I have to believe in my ability that I can get in. Obviously you have to look to the future but I think I am ready to take my chance."

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