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Why does Gareth Southgate insist on playing Jordan Henderson for England?

No player in Southgate's squad splits opinion quite like the Liverpool midfielder

We know, we know.

It’s the international break, but we’re trying our best to remain positive and open-minded.

After all, there’s a World Cup coming up and England have a fairly exciting and youthful line-up this time around, and Gareth Southgate seems like the right guy for the job.

Exciting times ahead

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Exciting times ahead

And while we’re pleased as punch that he’s not afraid to play some of the country’s brightest talents – notably Jesse Lingard, who scored against Holland yesterday, or the likes of Joe Gomez and Lewis Cook – there’s still a few players in his squad that seem to irk the majority of fans.


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One of which is Jordan Henderson, who looks like he’ll be the captain this summer.

Henderson, eh?

Captain, leader, Hendo?

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Captain, leader, Hendo?

It’s probably fair to say that the Liverpool midfielder doesn’t exactly stimulate much enthusiasm among supporters.

After all, he’s not on the same level as Germany’s Toni Kroos, France’s Paul Pogba or Spain’s Thiago Alcantara, is he?

But for some reason, he’s been a regular for both club and country for a while now and has pretty much been entrusted with the captain’s armband wherever he goes.

So is there something we’re all missing?

Southgate seems to rate him

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Southgate seems to rate him

Reflecting on his choice of captain, Southgate said: “He’s got some tremendous human qualities and is a certain leader of men.

“He worked the game out very well today, spotted the tactical changes the Dutch made in switching their system three times, speaking to others and telling them where to press.

“Obviously he’s one of the few guys who captains his club. Or has captained his club. He’s comfortable in that role.

“He’s comfortable to speak up for the group. He has a mindset for the collective, not the self. That’s a hugely important attribute for a captain to have.”

A natural leader

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A natural leader

Former England defender Lee Dixon shared Southgate’s view ahead of the game, saying: “Jordan Henderson gets a lot of criticism, but for me, he is number one on the plane.

“He plays his position well, and he will lead by example tonight.”

He’s not wrong. Henderson was the focal point of England’s midfield against the Dutch, bringing composure and balance to the centre of the park as they played a simple but effective passing-style.

He’s also been prominent for Liverpool this season

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He’s also been prominent for Liverpool this season

And then there’s the folks who claim the 27-year-old ‘only passes backwards’.

Actually, compared to his peers, Hendo is one of the high-flyers when you look at the percentages of forward passes this season, with only Man United linchpin Nemanja Matic ahead of him in the stats.

It’s time to face the facts, folks.

Hendo is here to stay and it’s probably a good thing.


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