JORDAN Henderson reckons his former Sunderland youth and reserve team leader Jack Colback deserves to stay in the team, not just against Bolton Wanderers tomorrow but for the rest of the season.
And he believes that the midfielder needs to be seriously considered for a midfield berth next season – even when the club’s midfield absentees return, or the team is strengthened.
With Sunderland’s injury woes showing few signs of improving for tomorrow’s trip to Bolton, Black Cats boss Steve Bruce will hand Colback a fourth successive Premier League start.
But the 21-year-old has done enough to justify his place after being one of the few bright spots for the Black Cats over the last month.
And Henderson (pictured, right) believes Colback has merited an opportunity to prove his top-flight worth after waiting patiently for his opportunity since returning from his second loan spell at Ipswich Town in January.
He told the Echo: “Jack’s had to wait for a while to start, but he was coming on as sub and doing well.
“It was a good opportunity for him when he got that first start at Birmingham last month and I thought he took it really well.
“I’m sure he’ll be looking to stay in the team.
“He’s grown in confidence since going to Ipswich which will have helped him by getting first-team experience – I think he got Player of the Year there which showed how well he was doing.
“I’ve played with him for quite a while now, he was captain of the youths and the reserves, and he’s been a great player right through all the age levels.
“There’ll be good things to come from him.
“And it’ll be hard for the gaffer not to keep playing him because everyone has been pleased with how he’s doing.”
Henderson is also backing Colback to get on the goal trail, with Sunderland short of goals.
Henderson added: “He has got a goal in his locker. When I used to play with him in the reserves and the youth team he was top scorer, so he has got goals in him.
“The more he plays, I am sure he will get one.”
Three of Sunderland’s midfield for the last three games have been under the age of 23, with skipper Lee Cattermole the most senior of the trio.
Despite being still a tender age, Cattermole has clocked up more than 150 appearances since making his Middlesbrough debut at 17.
And Henderson believes Cattermole’s influence has had a huge bearing on both himself and Colback after the ex-Wigan man returned from a back problem last month.
The news that the Teessider is out for the season, though, will be a huge blow to the Black Cats’ midfield.
“Catts has got a lot of experience at such a young age,” said Henderson.
“He’s young with an older head on him, which helps us.
“He’s good to have in your team, a good captain and you can learn a lot from him.
“He’s got the perfect attitude and approach, especially when you’re going through a sticky spell like the one we’ve been going through.”