Gareth Southgate explains why Jordan Henderson has been 'outstanding'

Kyle Picknell
Gareth Southgate is grateful to have a player like Jordan Henderson to call upon
Gareth Southgate is grateful to have a player like Jordan Henderson to call upon / Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

Gareth Southgate has heaped praise on Jordan Henderson following England's 3-0 win over Senegal in the World Cup round of 16.

The England manager hailed Henderson's performance as 'outstanding' along with that of the 19-year-old Jude Bellingham in midfield, with the two combining for the Three Lions' opening goal after a testing opening period.

"I thought in the first 25 minutes we found it difficult to play through Senegal and our best moments came where we pressed really well and won the ball off them," Southgate said following the game.

"Jude and Hendo were outstanding in that period, doing that.

"Once we managed to get the goal that settled us down a bit and the quality of the moves for our goals and the clinical nature of our finishing was outstanding."

The decision to start Henderson in midfield for a second consecutive game was a controversial one among fans given the attacking talent England had on their bench in the form of Marcus Rashford - who scored an impressive brace against Wales - Jack Grealish, Mason Mount and James Maddison.

But, as is often the priority for Southgate, the England manager once again opted for added defensive stability by pairing the experienced Liverpool captain with Bellingham in the centre of midfield and just ahead of Declan Rice.

The move paid dividends as they combined for said opening goal, with the Borussia Dortmund star cutting back for Henderson to sweep in off his left foot.

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"I think his leadership and the quality of his performance was outstanding and has been since we met [in Qatar] three weeks ago," Southgate said of Henderson's display.

"He looks in a really good place and his influence and the balance he gives us allows others to play. He's obviously not a regular goalscorer but we're happy for him to be chipping in with those."

As for Bellingham, who appears to have forged an extremely close relationship with Henderson on and off the pitch, Southgate has been impressed by the way he has conducted himself within the camp as well as his brilliance during games.

"The maturity of his play and the accelerated rate of his improvement is incredible," Southgate explained.

"He's always wanting to learn whenever we're talking to him about things that can just be touched up. He's the first to watch [video analysis] and you can see he's taking it all in. It's a great sign."

Both players will have to be at their best once again as England take on France in the World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.