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Kalvin Phillips has rubbished Roy Keane's claim that Jordan Henderson will be a "huge distraction" in the England camp due to not being fully fit.
Keane took aim at Henderson while covering the Three Lions' Euro 2020 warm-up match against Romania on Sunday.
The Irishman branded the Liverpool captain a "cheerleader" and accused him of not being able to effectively contribute after he missed the final three months of the Premier League season with a groin injury.
Keane also questioned why England boss Gareth Southgate named Henderson in his final 26-man squad for the summer tournament while downplaying the 30-year-old's influence on his teammates.
Henderson came off the bench and missed a penalty in the 1-0 victory over Romania
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
"It’s already a distraction for Jordan," Keane told ITV Sport. "I was convinced he was going to play the other day [against Austria].
"I know there’s talk he’ll come out for the second half, but why not start him in the first 45 minutes where there will be more intensity?
"In the second half there are going to be plenty of changes. I think it is a huge distraction, I don’t think he should be involved.
"If he can’t start the game against Romania, because physically and mentally today’s game won’t be that tough for him.
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"He’s an experienced player but he’s not kicked a ball in three months, going to a European Championship, it’s not right.
"I’ve heard people say they want him around the place – for what? Does he do card tricks? Does he have a sing-song? Does he do quizzes in the evenings?"
Despite Keane's claims, Phillips insists Henderson's presence in the England camp is invaluable on the eve of the Euros.
Should Southgate have named Henderson in his England squad? Have your say in the comments.
"When people say 'he’s not fit' and 'why is he there?', I just think he’s a good person to have around, especially for the young lads that are here," Phillips, 25, told Sky Sports.
"There’s a lot of young lads, here for their first tournament as well and it’s good to have somebody who can share their experiences with you.
"In Jordan’s case, whether he’s fit or not, I love having him here. I love speaking to him, I love having him around the place because it just makes it a lot more comfortable for players like me."
Meanwhile, Henderson has laughed off the comments made by the manager who handed him his senior debut for Sunderland in 2008.
Southgate has also brushed off the remarks, highlighting how Henderson has a "very positive influence" on his teammates and maintaining his side are "not distracted by anything".
England commence their Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia on Sunday before clashes with Scotland and the Czech Republic