IT used to be an Anfield tradition.

The Reds would buy a player for a sizeable fee, then still pack him off to the reserves for a couple of years to learn the Liverpool way.

Ian Rush, Jimmy Case, Alec Lindsay and Brian Hall all spent their formative years playing Central League football.

But the fast-buck finances of modern football mean that players now have to do their learning in the front line.

And Jordan Henderson is a signing who has suffered in the unforgiving glare of the Premier League spotlight.

Until now.

The Reds’ £16m signing from Sunderland scored a stunning first goal for the club against Norwich a fortnight ago.

He followed up with another memorable effort at Arsenal on Wednesday, and boss Brendan Rodgers saw enough to claim that the 22-year-old midfielder will become “a great signing” for the club.

The Reds boss believes that Henderson just needed time.

“Jordan’s improving all the time,” he said.

“He has a great appetite for the game. He played against Norwich from the side and came in and got a wonderful goal, then you saw him tonight (at Arsenal) in that number 10 role and I was just talking to him afterwards about producing that final ball or that final pass.

“But he’s got a wonderful appetite, tactically he’s getting better all the time and he’s got great athleticism.

“I believe he’s one who will be a great signing for Liverpool. It just takes time.”

Rodgers added: “You look back years at Liverpool and players used to come in and they’d be put in the reserves for two years, and then they’d come out and play.

“These kids are now coming in at 19, 20 and having to go straight into the team. It takes a bit of time.

“But he’s really shown that he’s going to be a very good player.”

Henderson wasn’t the only player to earn Rodgers’ admiration at The Emirates, but in Jamie Carragher’s case it was appreciation which has been there since he arrived at the club.

After starting his first Premier League match for more than two months against Norwich, Carragher kept his place at Arsenal on Wednesday – and the plaudits he collected weren’t just from Sky Sports, who made him their man of the match.

Brendan Rodgers delivered a stirring assessment of Carragher’s ongoing influence at Anfield.

“I can’t give Jamie enough credit,” he stated. “He was 35 on Monday but he’s so fit, he looks after himself ever so well. I can’t speak highly enough about him, both as a professional football player and as a human being.

“He has been incredible for me in my time – him and Steven Gerrard.

“Any manager coming into any football club would want these two guys to be right behind you and the support that Jamie and Steven have given me in this role and how they want to push it forward has been incredible.

“Carra is a guy who was one of the top defenders in European football for about five or six years. Maybe over the last 18 months he hasn’t played as much as he would have liked, but we’ve got to a point where, watching him every day in training and seeing him in games in the Europa League and the cups, I couldn’t leave him out because I needed that organisation and leadership qualities and he’s given us that.”

It was Jordan Henderson who presented the satellite sponsors’ champagne to Jamie Carragher following their post-match interviews at The Emirates on Wednesday.

It may not be the last award either player picks up this season.

When the champions came to Anfield in August, the pair were unused substitutes. When the Reds go to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday for the return fixture both could be integral figures.