Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has backed summer signings Fabinho and Naby Keita to go from strength to strength as they get to grips with the Premier League.
Midfield duo Fabinho and Keita were brought to Anfield for a combined £92.75 million ($104m), but both have struggled to make an impact for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the opening months of the campaign.
They have both had to make do with places on the bench for the most part thus far, but when given opportunities in recent weeks they have begun to show exactly what they have to offer.
Fabinho impressed in Sunday’s win over Everton in the Merseyside Derby while Keita earned rave reviews with his performance during the 3-1 victory over Burnley on Wednesday in what was his first start since mid-September.
And Henderson believes both are now starting to show their worth, and is backing them to go onto become key players as the Reds continue to battle on three fronts.
“I don’t know whether he understands me!” he told reporters when asked about Fabinho. “But he’s got lads around him, the Brazilian lads and the French lads.
“We’re all one group and you can see that on the pitch. I think everyone makes it easy for people to come in and settle. But it’s going to take time when you come in from a different league. He’s doing well.”
On Keita he added: “I thought he started really well and then got an injury which set him back a little bit. I thought [at Burnley] he was outstanding.
“You can see how good he is on the ball, how comfortable he is driving with the ball forward, which is important for us.
“I think he’ll go from strength to strength as he gets more games and experience. But I think you can already see he’s a fantastic player.”
Fabinho did not feature at Burnley as Klopp made seven changes to his starting XI. Liverpool, though, still came through what was always likely to be a tricky away game. They trailed to Jack Cork’s goal, but fought back strongly through James Milner, Roberto Firmino and Xherdan Shaqiri.
“The reaction to go on and win the game was really good,” Henderson said. “That’s really pleasing for us as a squad, especially with all of the changes. I thought the lads were brilliant.
“We spoke about one or two things at half-time and I thought that helped us. We made a lot of changes, the lads that have come in have done a great job and it shows how good the squad is.
“We’re going to need everyone over the next few months because the games come thick and fast. We need everyone to play their part.”
Henderson refused to be drawn on suggestions made by Klopp that Burnley’s approach to the game had been overly-aggressive, with Joe Gomez set to miss six weeks of action after he fractured his leg in east Lancashire.
“I think you’ve got to expect that,” Henderson said. “They’re fighting, though we all are.
“As a team we’re fighting to win the game. We knew Burnley were an aggressive team and they’ve got some good players. They want to win.
“Of course, there’s a couple of tackles that could have went either way but they’ve managed to get the ball and that makes all the difference.
“I’m not really sure what happened with Joe, but I thought we reacted well. We kept playing the ball. If you lose your head you can pick up cards. The focus was brilliant in terms of maintaining control and creating chances.”