June 15, 2021

The Three Lion star who Gareth Southgate points finger at in England Euros preparation victory over Romania

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson was caught up in controversy during his long-awaited comeback for England against Romania.

England boss Gareth Southgate has questioned Jordan Henderson for the penalty miss that took a shine off the Liverpool skipper’s return to action.

Henderson made his first appearance since limping out of the Merseyside derby on February 20 with a groin problem when playing the second half of the Three Lions’ 1-0 friendly win over Romania in Middlesbrough on Sunday.

The 30-year-old came through unscathed and demonstrated a few good touches, not least when playing a pass from which Dominic Calvert-Lewin earned England a second penalty shortly after Marcus Rashford had given them the lead from the spot.

However, Henderson – who had taken over the captain’s armband from the substituted Rashford – appeared to overrule Everton striker Calvert-Lewin over taking on responsibility for the spot kick, and promptly saw his effort saved.

And England boss Southgate was less than impressed with the actions of the Liverpool man, who has still yet to score for his country.

“We had Rashford on penalties and then Ward-Prowse, and they had both come off,” said Southgate, speaking to ITV Sport.

“We were expecting Dominic to take it, and I was expecting Hendo to walk over and make sure Dominic took it. I’ll see what Hendo’s thought process was after.”

On the suggestion Henderson may have pulled rank as skipper, Southgate said: “Maybe we will pull rank next time!

“We just have to keep building with Hendo. Today was a good step forward. For 45 minutes in the second half, we thought it was the right time to bring him into the game when a little bit of the intensity is out of it.

“He’ll feel better about himself and we will see how his body reacts to that 45. But it was good to get him back on the field.

“You can see the leadership and communication he brings and the influence he has on other people. Let’s hope that’s a positive step in that direction.”

Of his penalty miss, Henderson said: “I was confident but it was a good save, it wasn’t a great penalty, a good height for the goalkeeper but I am not too bothered.

“It would have been nice to cap the comeback off with a goal.”

Rashford’s penalty was good enough to earn England their first win over Romania in 51 years in their final warm-up friendly ahead of Euro 2020.

And Southgate added: “We had chances to make it more comfortable but so did they. In the first half we didn’t work hard enough without the ball.

“We were too stretched and didn’t press well and that meant our back and midfield players had a lot of ground to cover.

“After half-time I thought we improved, it was helpful when we went to 4-3-3 a little bit later for this particular game.

“For us it was a really good exercise. Players needed the minutes and we learned a lot from the game.”

Southgate will finalise his 26-man squad on Monday by naming a replacement for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold, who had to withdraw last week with a thigh complaint.

England begin their Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia at Wembley next Sunday afternoon.

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