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England boss Southgate gives update on Henderson's fitness ahead of Euros opener against Croatia

6:18 PM EDT 6/3/21
Euro 2020 Top 100 Jordan Henderson
The Liverpool captain is still on the comeback trail after groin surgery and the Three Lions boss is taking no chances with his recovery

Gareth Southgate has given an update on Jordan Henderson's fitness ahead of England's Euro 2020 opener against Croatia.

Henderson has been out of action since undergoing successful surgery on a groin injury in February, but was still included in Southgate's final 26-man squad for this summer's European Championship.

The Liverpool midfielder was an unused substitute during the Three Lions' 1-0 friendly win over Austria in midweek and it is unclear whether he will be handed his first competitive appearance in three months when they take on Romania in their final warm-up game on Sunday.

What's been said?

England are due to open their Group D schedule on June 13, and with Henderson running out of time to build up match fitness, Southgate is sceptical about his chances of featuring in the clash with Croatia at Wembley.

"I don’t think it would be fair to rule him out of it but I think it’s clear to everyone how much football he’s missed," the Three Lions boss said of Henderson's condition.

"The timelines are getting more difficult with each training session he might miss. But I’m being very realistic about what’s possible here.

"It’s a decision we took (to select Henderson) because we have been able to take extra players and we feel he is such an important influence around the place.

"If we can get him close to being able to contribute on the pitch against Croatia that will be a real bonus at the moment."

Other England injury concerns

Henderson is not the only man in the England camp struggling to shake off a serious injury, with Manchester United's Harry Maguire still recovering from ankle ligament damage.

Maguire was also absent against Austria, while Henderson's Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold has been forced to withdraw from the squad after tearing his quadricep muscle during that encounter.

Southgate on Bellingham

The man best placed to take Henderson's spot in England's midfield at the Euros is 17-year-old Jude Bellingham, who has just completed a stellar debut season in Germany with Borussia Dortmund.

Bellingham impressed in the win over Austria and Southgate has no doubts that he has the quality and temperament to shine at a major international tournament.

Asked if the teenager has done enough to earn a start at the Euros, the 50-year-old head coach responded: "The best way to answer that is to say he is not just here for the experience.

"You’ve seen what he is capable of, we’ve seen that for Borussia Dortmund especially in the Champions League.

"The whole group respect him, he has great humility around the camp but he competes in training like he’s been with them from day one which is a great mentality to have."

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