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Rodgers gives backing to Henderson

Brendan Rodgers has given Jordan Henderson reassurance by insisting that can always rely on the Liverpool midfielder.

Henderson is fighting to win back his place at Anfield after being left out of Rodgers' starting line-up for the last four league matches. The England Under-21 captain's form has picked up in recent months, having made a slow start to life on Merseyside following a £16 million move from Sunderland in the summer of 2011.

At one stage, he looked to be on his way out of Anfield, having been offered to Fulham last summer as part of an unsuccessful bid to bring in Clint Dempsey.

Henderson has fought his way back into the side since then, but has not started a Premier League game since February 11, having been restricted to substitute appearances against Swansea, Wigan, Tottenham and Southampton.

Rodgers insists that his decision to drop the 22-year-old was tactical, and based on a wish to pick teams best suited to coping in those matches, rather than any reflection on his performances. And he has given Henderson hope that he can regain his place when Liverpool's league campaign resumes at Aston Villa on Sunday.

Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo: "It's just the balance and it depends on the opponent. "But Jordan has been excellent, he's a good player, he's improving tactically all the time and I know if I need to call on him he will be ready."

Blackpool midfielder Tom Ince, meanwhile, insists that he was never close to rejoining Liverpool in January.

Ince, who left Anfield for Bloomfield Road in August 2011, was one of Rodgers' main targets at the time, with the Liverpool manager lining up a £4 million bid. But the two clubs could not agree a deal and Ince stayed at Blackpool, where his father Paul has since taken over as manager.

Ince, named the Football League's Young Player of the Year on Sunday night, said: "I don't think any of the moves were close. It's great having that speculation and it's very flattering. To have teams of that magnitude saying you're a decent player, it gives me a smile and flatters me a lot.

"For me though it's about putting my faith in Blackpool because without that club, my team-mates and the fans I wouldn't be Football League Young Player of the Year and the player I am now.

"My dream is to play at the top level and to achieve my ambitions, but it's all about timing and patience, so when you get to the top you are ready to go and not jumping too soon."

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