Danny Murphy insists Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is UNDROPPABLE for England as Gareth Southgate begins his plans for Euro 2020.
The Three Lions boss has got a bit of a selection headache in midfield as he begins to whittle down his squad ahead of next summer’s competition.
Southgate experimented with his squad in Pristina, with injuries to a number of experienced players giving the likes of Harry Winks, Declan Rice, Mason Mount get another chance to shine.
And they delivered, with Tottenham ace Winks named Man-of-the-Match after scoring his first England goal, while Chelsea youngster Mount also opened his account at senior level with a late strike.
With only two friendlies between now and the start of the Euros, Southgate has a decision to make as he looks at his options and the recent criticism he faced when he announced his latest squad, with people claiming he was again picking his favourites over players in-form, could well play on his mind.
One of those ‘favourites’ is Jordan Henderson.
The Liverpool captain has faced routine criticism from England supporters despite being an ever-present in the team since making his debut in 2010, and being the veteran of three major tournaments despite being only 29.
But Murphy insists the midfielder is playing the best football of his career under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield and should be one of the first names on Southgate’s teamsheet when they begin their quest for a first European title.
Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White, the former Liverpool man said: “There are some question marks in midfield about the best way to go, who to play and who not to play.
“There are some good options there for Gareth. I’m glad Harry Winks and Declan Rice are fighting it out and I’m glad they’re both in the squad because they’ve both got big futures and they’re both capable.
“I was really pleased for Winks getting his goal, I’ve been a big fan for a long time. He’s more creative and more experienced than Rice. He played in a more attacking role against Kosovo and I like him there, he’s got the athleticism and the creativity to produce more than when he plays in the holding role.
“But I still think if you’re looking at the midfield, in a big England game tomorrow, Jordan Henderson would be the most reliable.
“He’s a big-game player, he has a big-game mentality, he’s a leader, a captain. In England’s best team I would sit him in there [in the number six role]. He’s got an unbelievable engine and he dictates play now better than he ever has and demands from others around him.
“Liverpool’s three midfielders do everything, they’re defensive and attacking, they have the athleticism because you have to if you play for Jurgen Klopp, so I think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will also start for Southgate because he can do both.
“England’s best midfield three depends on who they’re playing against, but Jordan is always in it. The others you can change around depending on who you play.
“If we were playing a lesser nation, I would have no problem playing James Maddison and Mason Mount, but if you’re playing France then you might go for Winks, Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain because they can all do the defence bit and they’re all disciplined.”
Arsenal legend Ray Parlour agrees about Henderson and also believes Murphy is right on the money with the three players who should be in England’s first XI at the Euros.
“Henderson is a certainty to play,” he said on Tuesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.
“Gareth trusts him, he’s very important to Liverpool and he’s going to be an important player in this Euros.
“I think it’s all about who is going to play alongside Henderson. At the moment Oxlade-Chamberlain is playing well and he can always get you a goal. Mount has done really well, too, but I think Winks will start.
“He’s the one who takes the ball from the back-four and he’s very comfortable.”
England’s midfield for Euro 2020 – who’s in contention?
Jordan Henderson – 55 caps
Eric Dier – 40 caps
Dele Alli – 37 caps
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 35 caps
Ross Barkley – 33 caps
Fabian Delph – 20 caps
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 10 caps
Declan Rice – 7 caps
Harry Winks – 6 caps
Mason Mount – 6 caps
James Maddison – 1 cap
Jack Grealish – Uncapped
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