Mario Balotelli
Henderson and Sturridge disagreed with Balotelli's decision to take the penalty.Getty Images

Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol is not convinced by Jordan Henderson's ability to take over the captain's armband following Steven Gerrard's departure after the end of the season.

The Liverpool midfielder got embroiled in a war of words with Mario Balotelli over a penalty in their Europa League tie against Besiktas at Anfield on Thursday. Henderson, who was poised to take the spot kick in the absence of Gerrard, was shunned by Balotelli as he put the ball in the spot and slotted home the winner.

The incident marked a major debate across all spheres, with Gerrard himself berating Balotelli for acting irresponsibly. Brendan Rodgers has also involved himself in a war of words with the Italian, accusing him of a lack of etiquette in the penalty debacle.

However, Nicol, who spent 13 successful years at Liverpool, believes that it was a mistake on Henderson's part in reading the situation and not telling Balotelli off when the confusion arose.

The former defender insists that this particular incident exemplifies the fact that Henderson has a long way to go to fill Gerrard's boots and that Rodgers does not have a natural successor at Liverpool to carry his team forward.

"I think we learnt more about whether Jordan Henderson is ready to captain this team," Nicol told talkSPORT.

"You can't blame Mario for wanting to step up and take it. It is the captain's call and quite clearly Henderson wasn't sure what to do and really kind of caved in to Mario.

"The fact he scored and we won the game is great, but when you are a captain and you have got orders from your coach, you have to follow them, and he didn't follow them. Unfortunately for Jordan, he got this one wrong.

"There is a certain standard that a captain has to carry out. He has to be respected by his whole team and to get that respect you have to make good decisions and big decisions and you have to get them right.

"Jordan Henderson has got this one totally wrong and for me it opens up the question of what will happen when Steven Gerrard leaves. There doesn't seem to be a natural successor to him [as captain] on the books at the moment," he added.