JACK COLBACK says fellow Sunderland academy graduate Jordan Henderson’s stint at Liverpool can only be judged in the fullness of time.
Despite starting 31 top flight games and lifting the Carling Cup in his maiden season on Merseyside, Henderson is yet to win over the doubters at Anfield after his £19million switch from the Stadium of Light 15 months ago.
Henderson has not featured in the Premier League this season under new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and was mooted as a makeweight in the failed bid to land Clint Dempsey from Fulham on deadline day.
But Colback, who reached the FA Youth Cup semi-finals and lifted the Premier League reserve title alongside Henderson, believes the 22-year-old’s fee still masks his tender years.
Colback told the Echo: “Everyone is saying it’s not working out, but he’s still played a lot of games.
“He’s maybe not expressed himself as well as we know and he knows he can play.
“But it was a massive move for him and the pressure that comes with it, means it’s going to take time.
“When Ronaldo first came over here – not that I’m comparing the two – he took a good few seasons to settle.
“He’s only 22 so he just needs to be given time. Everyone knows how good a player he is.”
Colback and Henderson will line up in opposite camps tonight when Sunderland host a Premier League game for the first time this season, against a Liverpool side who have taken just one point from their opening three games.
Sunderland are a point better off, but have played a game fewer, having seen the scheduled Stadium of Light clash with Reading washed out.
Colbacks admits that postponement has slightly distorted Sunderland’s encouraging start to the season, but says victory tonight would provide a significant boost to the Black Cats’ growing confidence.
The midfielder said: “We’re happy with the start we’ve made. It was a shame the Reading game got called off.
“We felt really confident going into that one and we could have been sitting with five points from three games.
“It’s been a pleasing start, a bit disappointing against Swansea that we got ahead twice and got pegged back and when they went down to 10 men, we didn’t capitalise on it.
“But we need to make sure we get something out of tonight because if we lose, it doesn’t look as good with two points from three games.”
He added: “I suppose it’s a good time to play Liverpool, but there’s never really a good time.
“There’s still a lot of quality in their side, even though they seem to be being written off after three games.
“But the confidence around this place at the moment is very high. Whichever team we play, we’ll be looking to do well.”