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ERIC Black hailed the performance of two-goal Jordan Henderson in the wake of Sunderland’s priceless 4-2 win over Wigan on Saturday, saying the youngster was someone supporters should be cherishing rather than criticising.

“I’m absolutely delighted for him,” Sunderland’s assistant manager told reporters after the game.

“And I’m especially pleased for him to get among the goals because I know he’s been looking to add that to his game.

“He stays behind regularly after training sessions practising his finishing and no-one deserves goals more than him.”

Henderson has had some flak from fans over the last few months, but that’s largely because, having been hyped for most of the season, through no fault of his own, as a £20million player, some supporters have occasionally grown frustrated when he doesn’t perform like one.

The club has been aware that Henderson has his critics and Black said: “It’s criticism I find hard to understand.

“I know he’s dropped off compared to his level of performance previously, but he’s a credit to himself with his sense of application.

“It’s a shame too because he probably takes it more personally as a Sunderland lad – he lives, breathes and drinks Sunderland Football Club.

“Hopefully he can press on from here because he really is a talent.

“I’m fortunate enough to watch him in training and see what a good player he is.

“He’s at the very top among footballers in terms of being a professional.

“He’s a very mature young man and he takes things in his stride, but he’s desperate to improve himself and especially on improving his goal ratio.

“I think he’s aware that he’s had criticism, but he’s responded the best way he can, by doing his best in training and looking to impress in the games.

“I think the England thing (his senior international call-up to face France in November) did him no favours looking back because no matter how mature you are, it is difficult to cope with that level of interest.

“But he’s come back from that and against Wigan we reaped the benefits.”