Football

Gareth Southgate Responds To Roy Keane's Jordan Henderson 'Card Trick' Comments

Gareth Southgate Responds To Roy Keane's Jordan Henderson 'Card Trick' Comments

England's squad is in a bit of a precarious heading into the Euros. Not only have they lost Trent Alexander-Arnold (although they are admittedly stacked at right back), but there are major doubts over the fitness of Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire.

Maguire has only just started running once against after missing Manchester United's last few games of the season, while Jordan Henderson's 45 minutes against Romania yesterday were his first since February.

Speaking on ITV before that game, Roy Keane questioned Gareth Southgate's decision to include Henderson in the squad for the tournament when he wasn't even fit enough to feature in the first friendly against Austria. He also battled back against the idea that the Liverpool captain was worth having in setup even if he wasn't fit.

I've heard people say, 'They want him around the place' - for what? Does he do card tricks? Does he have a sing-song? Does he do quizzes in the evening? What does he do?" said Keane.

If you're Liverpool, you wouldn't be happy either.

Surely Jordan doesn't want to be around the place being some sort of cheerleader. You want to play.

What you need after being out for three months is four or five games. If he gets through the second 45 minutes today, does that mean he's an option in two or three weeks? He's clearly not fit enough.

He can't be there to babysit lads. What's he going to do?

Henderson would play 45 minutes in the 1-0 win over Romania, missing a penalty late in the game.

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His fitness didn't seem like too much of an issue, although the pace of a warm-up friendly is certainly nowhere near what it will be in big fixtures in the tournament itself. Either way, Gareth Southgate doesn't seem too worried about the midfielder.

When asked about Keane's Henderson comments, the England disregarded the former Ireland captain's opinion.

Well, I think firstly we are not distracted by anything.

We know the situation Hendo is in, he's been a very positive influence around the camp with the group.

It's a step forward for him physically today, which was important for him to be able to play some sort of part in the tournament and we are realistic about what that could be.

It's not a situation where it's dividing the group or it's unrealistic what's possible.

We're not hanging our hat on him being fit and if we can get him to a good level, then that's a bonus. We've got 26 players, which hasn't been the case before.

With the penalties, we are very diligent in how we practise them. I didn't expect what happened to happen and I wouldn't expect that to happen again.

We can imagine that Southgate will come in for plenty of criticism if England disappoint and Maguire or Henderson fail to impress in the tournament.

SEE ALSO: Former Ireland International Set To Be Named England U21 Manager

Gary Connaughton

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