Jordan Henderson: I hope Raheem stays with Liverpool
Jordan Henderson hopes his Liverpool and England team-mate Raheem Sterling commits his future to the Anfield club soon.
Sterling's contract dispute with Liverpool took a bitter twist last month when his representative Aidy Ward allegedly claimed the young forward was determined to leave the club.
Ward reportedly said in an interview with the London Evening Standard that his client would not accept a new contract at Liverpool, even if the club offered him £900,000 a week.
Ward later denied making those comments but there are no signs that contract negotiations with the forward are progressing well.
Despite interest in Sterling from Manchester City, Henderson still harbours hope his team-mate will remain at Liverpool though.
"He's obviously left (his future) to whoever's representing him in regards to what he wants to do," Henderson said.
"But for me Raheem Sterling is a fantastic player and he's been brilliant for England, I hope he will stay at Liverpool."
Liverpool cancelled contract talks with Sterling in the final week of the season and manager Brendan Rodgers criticised Ward for his conduct.
Some Liverpool fans made their feelings towards Sterling known on the final day of the campaign when they heckled him from the stands in the warm-up before the Reds' embarrassing 6-1 defeat at Stoke.
Henderson has defended his team-mate, though, insisting he is a "great professional."
The Liverpool midfielder said: "One thing I love about him is that he's a great person and a great lad.
"He's getting a lot of criticism because of the contract situation, but he's first-class as a person, all the lads love him whether it's with England or Liverpool.
"He's a great professional. His work ethic is fantastic. He works as hard as he can and wants to improve all the time."
Liverpool have ploughed on with their plans for next season despite the dispute with Sterling.
The Reds pulled off a big coup on Thursday when they announced they had signed James Milner on a free transfer.
Manchester City had offered Milner an improved contract to stay at the Etihad Stadium, but the 29-year-old opted to move to Liverpool instead.
"It's a fantastic signing," Henderson said of Milner, who has 53 England caps.
"His attitude on and off the field is first-class. You know you'll get energy from him.
"He's a quality player. I watched a lot of City players last year and he contributes a lot with assists and goals. He's got a lot of ability. And he does a lot of the dirty work as well.
"I look forward to playing with him next season."
Henderson is looking to put a forgettable season with Liverpool behind him over the next 10 days and concentrate instead on keeping England's unbeaten post-World Cup run intact.
The Three Lions have won seven and drawn one since their premature World Cup exit. If they beat Slovenia a week on Sunday, they will have taken maximum points from their opening six qualifiers.
Before then, England have to negotiate a tough trip to Dublin, where they will take on a determined Republic of Ireland team in a hostile atmosphere.
A familiar face will be in the home dugout for Henderson in the form of his old boss at Sunderland Roy Keane.
The former Manchester United captain gave Henderson his Sunderland debut back in 2008 and he remembers the often controversial 43-year-old fondly.
"Roy was a huge part of me getting my chance as a footballer," Henderson said.
"He gave me my debut at Sunderland and had a huge impact. I can never really repay him for that.
"To work under him, knowing what he was as a player was amazing, really. Hopefully there will be time to see him after the game.
"He taught me a lot. I was a young lad coming into the first team and didn't tell me specifics but he could see how hard I worked. I hope he saw a bit of quality in there too. I can never repay him for giving me an opportunity."