England

Experience alone should see Jordan Henderson start against Germany

Harry Symeou
Jordan Henderson hasn't started for England at Euro 2020 yet but could be in contention to play versus Germany
Jordan Henderson hasn't started for England at Euro 2020 yet but could be in contention to play versus Germany / JUSTIN TALLIS/Getty Images
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Jordan Henderson's fitness was one of England's hot topics heading into Euro 2020, with some suggesting that he should be left out of the squad because of his lack of minutes for Liverpool.

But having come on at half-time in the Three Lions' final group game, a 1-0 win over Czech Republic at Wembley, the Reds' skipper is now in contention to start against arch-enemy Germany in the round of 16.

Thus far, Kalvin Phillips has deputised alongside Declan Rice in central midfield - winning the man of the match award against Croatia with an imposing, energetic performance, before putting in a slightly less glamorous performance against Scotland.

Phillips also played against the Czech Republic from the start, but again the Leeds midfielder - although doing everything that was asked for him - was a little lacklustre, particularly in a relatively turgid second half.

For England to progress in the competition, it's clear they will need far more dynamism, adventure and quality in midfield.

Jordan Henderson
Henderson came on at half-time versus the Czech Republic at Wembley on Tuesday / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

They'll need to progress the ball better and in Henderson they have a more experienced and rounded midfield player capable of impacting games in the attacking third, while also providing the level of effort and work rate required to contain the likes of Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan.

Admittedly, England have been brilliant defensively. They're yet to concede a single goal, have been compact and difficult to break down, and have largely been in control of the tempo of their games. The downside has been their inability to get things firing at the other end, and that's largely been down to a lack of balance in midfield.

Henderson's strength, on the other hand, is receiving the ball deep, picking out pockets of space to move into and driving passes into the forward line with precision and power. It's a Steven Gerrard-esque trait to have, and adds a different dimension to Gareth Southgate's attacking armoury.

Not only that, he's a natural leader both on and off the pitch. His know-how and experience at the highest level gives him the edge over the rest of Southgate's midfield options and providing he's as fit as he says he is, bringing Henderson into the starting XI is the right move.

Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson is a Champions League winner and one of England's most experienced players / Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

That's not to say Phillips isn't a useful player but having played in a deep-lying role for Leeds all season, his tendency to drop in alongside Rice limits the number of progressive runs from England's more forward thinking players - making them relatively easy to defend against.

Henderson is the box-to-box midfielder this team has been crying out for and although the Three Lions eased through the group stages without him, the challenge posed by Germany at Wembley will be far greater than anything they've faced so far.

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