Henchoz: The new Tony Adams

GERARD HOULLIER has been told Stephane Henchoz can develop into Anfield's version of Tony Adams as he exerts an increasing influence on Liverpool's fortunes. Sami Hyypia's brilliant form has taken some of the spotlight away from his central defensive partner, but Houllier needs no convincing of the quiet Swiss international's worth.

Liverpool have conceded only 10 goals in 17 league games since Henchoz made a belated entry into the season, after requiring a hernia operation before his £3.5million summer move from Blackburn.

And Houllier has revealed how Henchoz's outstanding potential was revealed by Roy Hodgson, the manager who signed him from Blackburn, and also knew of his qualities from his days in Switzerland.

He said: "I saw Roy Hodgson and he told me what a good player we had signed. He felt that in time he could develop into being as good as Tony Adams, and he has been a magnificent player for Arsenal.

"He is still only 25, which people forget, and he has lots of experience, including two years in the Premiership with Blackburn.

"I have called him a quietly efficient player. He came into the team at the start of October, and since then we have shown Champions' League form. Stephane is composed, controlled, and his understanding with Hyypia is very good."

Houllier added: "They look as if they get on well together, and look as if they have been playing together for a long time. They are both good defenders, and both very good readers of the game.

"I do not believe it is a mere coincidence that our form has improved so much since Stephane came into the team and formed his partnership with Sami.

"Stephane and Sami also give good, clean possession when they come out of defence. They apply themselves very well to this important part of their game. "If they have to clear the ball they clear it, if they have to tackle they tackle. Sami has perhaps had more of the headlines because he was in the team first, but we are delighted with Stephane also. "He goes about his business in a very quiet way, but he is very effective. He is able to play well under pressure."

Houllier's other central defensive signing, gifted French teenager Djimi Traore, will push his claims when he plays in tonight's centenary friendly against AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court.

© Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

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