Gareth Southgate says it is still too early to tell whether Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will be fit for England’s Euro 2020 campaign.
The 30-year-old underwent groin surgery at the end of February and was initially ruled out for around five weeks.
But Southgate, who has made clear he will not select players on reputation alone, does not expect Henderson to return until towards the end of the campaign.
England face Austria in a pre-Euros friendly on June 2 and Southgate is unsure if Henderson will be part of his squad for the rescheduled tournament.
Well done lads https://t.co/OQ57nQ901Y
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) March 25, 2021
“We know it’s going to be close to the end of the season and we will just have to see how it goes,” he said.
“We are conscious that with any injury of that nature there is a guide and a time defined, but anything can happen along the way.
“In terms of promises, we can only say that Hendo himself is very optimistic about how the operation went and the prognosis that the specialist has given him as to what is possible.
“We also know he is likely to be a bit short of match minutes in high-level games.
“There are a lot of things to take into consideration but, at the moment, that is a decision that is a few weeks away.”
Who could fill in for Henderson?
Henderson has won 58 caps for England and started five games in the Three Lions’ run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup.
The former Sunderland man would be one of the first names on the teamsheet if fit, but his possible Euro 2020 absence could give Southgate a selection headache of sorts.
Kalvin Phillips, James Ward-Prowse and Mason Mount started Thursday’s 5-0 victory over San Marino, while Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden are other options.
Henderson was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year after helping Liverpool to the Premier League title last season, but he was predominantly used as a centre-back this term before being struck down by injury.
Using his figures from last season’s league campaign, the title-winning skipper averaged 88.24 touches per 90 minutes on average.
Among the aforementioned candidates to fill in for Henderson, Ward-Prowse comes closest to that figure this season with 83.59, followed by Bellingham (77.36 in the Bundesliga) and Mount (76.89).
Another area Henderson ranked highly in last season is passes into the opposition half, with 45.28 on average, compared to 38.36 for Mount in 2020-21 – who generally plays in more advanced areas for Chelsea – and 33.41 for next-best Ward-Prowse.
But, learning lessons from the past, could Southgate be after more of a tough tackler in that department?
If so, Bellingham is out in front this season in terms of tackles won (1.88), in front of Henderson (1.64) and Phillips (1.42).
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