Neville picks out Liverpool's Henderson miss: Cost them the league?

Gary Neville believes Jordan Henderson's absence could well have cost Liverpool dearly.

Liverpool agonisingly missed out on the Premier League title this season, surpassing their own pre-season expectations but ending the campaign disappointed.

The Merseyside giants looked at one stage certain to lift the trophy, only to win just four points from a possible nine during their final three games.

The two matches in which they dropped points coincided with a suspension being served by Jordan Henderson, with the midfielder picking up a red card in the 3-2 win over Manchester City.

SkySports pundit and former Manchester United captain Gary Neville is of the view that his absence negatively impacted the Reds.

He stated: "If they got an injury to Suarez in February or even Gerrard, they were finely tuned Liverpool. Even Jordan Henderson missing for those last 2-3 games they missed him badly I thought against Crystal Palace and Chelsea."

Henderson's tireless running helps bring the best out of Steven Gerrard, but his own creativity may just have helped break Chelsea down during the costly 2-0 defeat.

Statistics show that Henderson made more key passes in open play than any other Liverpool midfielder this season, substantially more than Gerrard and only bettered by striker Luis Suarez.

  TeamPosKey Passes from Open PlayMins
Luis Suarez Liverpool FW 67 2,964
Jordan Henderson Liverpool MF 55 3,128
Philippe Coutinho Liverpool MF 47 2,334
Raheem Sterling Liverpool MF 47 2,218
Steven Gerrard Liverpool MF 31 2,900

Henderson's fitness also could well have been vital in the closing stages against Crystal Palace, with the fact this is even being discussed, emphasising how far the former Sunderland midfielder has developed under Brendan Rodgers.

Former Red, John Aldridge, wrote earlier today for the Liverpool Echo that he was amazed Liverpool were able to sustain their title challenge with such a weak bench, which backs up Neville's comments about the squad being finely tuned.

If they are to kick on next season and make an impact in the Champions League too, this will be a challenge they must address over the summer, and one the club are likely fully aware of.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch