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England v Kosovo

Henderson: England are united and want to keep exciting

1:13 PM GMT 10/09/2019
Jordan Henderson England
The Liverpool midfielder claims Gareth Southgate’s squad will not allow any outside noise to distract them during a bid to hit collective targets

Jordan Henderson says the England squad is united, with the likes of Declan Rice and Mason Mount boasting the full support of those around them, while there is a desire in the camp to keep exciting fans.

The Three Lions have brought the public back onside with their efforts under Gareth Southgate, with semi-final berths secured at both the 2018 World Cup and 2019 UEFA Nations League.

It has not all been plain sailing for certain members of the squad, though, with West Ham midfielder Rice revealing that he received threats online after switching international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland.

Mount, meanwhile, has stated that he expects to be booed by some locals during a Euro 2020 qualifier with Kosovo at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium on Tuesday due to being a boyhood Portsmouth fan.

Liverpool captain Henderson, who is used to drowning out any critics, insists England will rally round those in need of support and ensure that any outside noise does not become a distraction.

He told the Evening Standard: “We’ll back each other, we’re fighting for each other and we all want the same things and the same goals.

“It’s important to stay together and not let those people affect us or what we’re trying to do. There’s always people on the outside talking, but as players it only matters what we think on the inside and what happens inside the circle.”

Henderson added on Rice: “Declan’s a fantastic lad, a great lad to have in the England squad. He’s always smiling, wanting to learn and wanting to improve.

“The other day [in a 4-0 win over Bulgaria] he played really well, breaking things up. He’s a great addition to the squad. He’s got the right mentality as well. He’ll go a long way and I’m excited to see what he can do in the future.”

England should be full of confidence when they take to the field against Kosovo, having claimed maximum points from three qualifiers so far, and Henderson is looking for Southgate’s side to maintain the feel-good factor they have established.

He said: “The connection changed after the World Cup. The nation was proud and they were excited about what could come in the future — the players that are coming through, the way we are playing.

“It is up to us to keep doing that. We have to keep exciting them, to keep winning games. If we do that, everyone will be right behind us. We are in a really good place.

“Kosovo are a proud country but so are we. The World Cup was a very good changing point in terms of the relationship with the fans. I could sense them getting excited about England again. That’s really important.

“Since then, we’ve had that [support] in abundance. Every time we pull the shirt on, we want to give everything we can, no matter who we are playing, and we want to win every game, so it will be no different in this game.

“We’ll give everything and, hopefully, we can do the job and get the three points.”