Richard Buxton: Bellingham an England star in the making
Only 18, Bellingham has already been praised by Henderson, Pep and Southgate
Jordan Henderson clearly knows a generational talent when he sees one.
Regularly being surrounded by, and learning from, a galaxy of stars at the outset of a decade-long spell with Liverpool means he understands better than most what it takes.
The midfielder is also heavily restrained in praise, making public pronouncements rare; even more reason why his recent hailing of Jude Bellingham must be taken seriously.
In isolation, Henderson's assessment that his England teammate is "miles ahead" of where he was at the same age is hardly an earth-shattering declaration, given that the future Reds captain had, at 18, barely broken into the senior ranks at Sunderland.
His senior international debut lay a further two years on the horizon, prefaced by a loan spell in the backwaters of the English football pyramid to build up frontline experience.
Bellingham, meanwhile, is anything but a late developer.
Nor is he burdened by the lofty expectations which Henderson had to endure, first as a hometown hero for the Black Cats and then when tasked with filling Steven Gerrard's gargantuan void at Anfield.
As the Three Lions aim to take another step towards a World Cup berth in their qualifier in Poland tomorrow morning (Singapore time), the Borussia Dortmund prodigy is already staking a claim to become a genuine standout performer in Qatar.
Just eight appearances into his fledgling career for Gareth Southgate's side, current projections have Bellingham heading for the top-five list of most-capped teenagers for his country, surpassing Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford's hauls of 13 apiece.
Southgate could not help but get caught up in the hype around the 18-year-old, describing him ahead of his second international start against Andorra as "someone who is going to be an important player for us".
Competition in the Euro 2020 finalists' midfield ranks is becoming fierce with Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips all actively vying for a place.
Even Henderson himself is battling to justify his continued inclusion in the engine room.
Yet, Bellingham offers England far more than many of his closest challengers.
He has a multi-faceted repertoire that allows him to be deployed in a variety of roles, from enforcer to playmaker.
Plying his trade in the Bundesliga and amassing over a half-century of appearances for Dortmund during the past 12 months, he has carried the added benefit of honing his craft away from the harsh, unforgiving spotlight his peers in the English Premier League face.
Without that undue pressure, Bellingham has developed into a complete midfielder with the confidence to torment opposing defenders at will, as he did to the Andorran backline by routinely dragging the ball away to send the Wembley crowd into raptures.
Pep Guardiola once jokingly queried the former Birmingham City prospect's age after a stellar display in Manchester City's Champions League quarter-final win over Dortmund.
He officially came of age just a matter of months later, fittingly on the same day that England put Germany to the sword in their round-of-16 encounter at Euro 2020.
There was no gifted outing for Bellingham that afternoon, with Southgate unwilling to sacrifice his team's ultimately hard-fought victory for the sake of personal conviviality.
If he carries on in this vein, the England manager will not need to make the same decision in Qatar.
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