Football

Jordan Henderson's England selection fuels debate

Keane and Sutton question his inclusion in England squad, Southgate chides Reds' man after penalty miss

Jordan Henderson's inclusion in the England squad was a topic of hot debate, after the Three Lions' 1-0 win over Romania in their final Euro 2020 warm-up yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Manager Gareth Southgate gave the Liverpool captain 45 minutes at the Riverside Stadium, the first time the 30-year-old has played for club or country in over 100 days.

Henderson looked rusty after replacing Kalvin Phillips at half-time and missed a penalty after taking the ball off Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

England's winner also came via the spot, as Marcus Rashford was more successful than his Reds' counterpart in converting a penalty won by Jack Grealish.

Southgate seemed annoyed by Henderson's actions, saying: "We had Marcus Rashford on penalties, then James Ward-Prowse but both came off.

"We expected Dominic Calvert-Lewin to take it and I was expecting Hendo to go over to him and let him take it. We will pull rank next time."

Ex-England and Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy, however, blamed the Everton man, suggesting the 24-year-old forward should know his place.

He told talkSPORT: "He flexed his muscles (and said), 'I am the captain, I am going to take it'. Fine. No problem with that. You have got to be careful.

"You have a place in the squad and you have to understand what your place is.

"When Jordan took the penalty, Calvert-Lewin has got his hands on his hips.

"He doesn't go for the rebound because he's sulking after he didn't take it."

Other pundits, however, were more critical about Henderson's spot in the England squad.

Ex-Ireland and Manchester United captain Roy Keane said on ITV: "I think it's a huge distraction - he's clearly not fit and I don't think he should be involved. If he can't start against Romania, he's not fit...

"I've heard a lot of people say they want him around the place. For what?

"Does he do card tricks and does he have a sing-song? Does he do quizzes in the evening? What does he do?"

Former English Premier League Golden Boot winner Chris Sutton agreed, writing in his Daily Mail column: "Roy Keane was spot on... You can tell how highly Southgate rates the 30-year-old.

"But would it be right to use him in this tournament? I'm not so sure.

"There are nations out there who will pounce on any rustiness, and right now, Henderson is as rusty as they come. He represents a risk."

Ex-Three Lions' striker Emile Heskey said England taking injured players to tournaments was nothing new, citing David Beckham at World Cup 2002.

He told talkSPORT: "When you're working with a squad for so long and you look at someone and you think they mean so much to the squad, you are going to give them the longest opportunity to get themselves in the right place."

Meanwhile, legendary ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger picked England as the main challengers to "super favourites" France, telling Sky Sports: "The English team is, for me, the team who can most threaten France.

"They have top-quality players.

"They are maybe still a bit young some of them but... they can compete with France."

ENGLAND’S GROUP D FIXTURES

  • June 13 (Sun), 9pm – v Croatia
  • June 19 (Sat), 3am – v Scotland
  • June 23 (Wed), 3am – v Czech Rep

*All in Singapore time

Football