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England captain Harry Kane has issued a staunch defence of Jordan Henderson, claiming he will "definitely" play a key role if they are to make a dent at Euro 2020.
The Liverpool midfielder was included in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad, despite missing the final three months of the season with a groin injury.
It was a controversial call with many believing England should avoid the kind of mistake that has plagued campaigns in years gone by.
Fears that Henderson wouldn’t be fit to play an active part in proceedings only heightened when he played just 45 minutes of their two warm-up fixtures.
ITV pundit Roy Keane questioned Jordan Henderson's place in the England squad ahead of Euro 2020
Southgate hoped the Reds skipper would get more action, but was held back after feeling a twinge before the first friendly against Austria.
Roy Keane took aim at Henderson ahead of the start of the tournament, questioning what he would actually be adding to the group.
“Clearly Jordan is not fit, I don’t think he should be involved,” Keane said ahead of England’s final warm-up game. “He can’t be fit if he can’t start a game against Romania.
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“I’ve heard people saying they want him around the place. For what? Does he do card tricks? Does he have a sing-song? Does he have quizzes in the evenings? What does he do?”
Henderson was an unused sub in the win over Croatia, with Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice shining in the position he would usually play.
However, Kane has backed his inclusion, suggesting his experience of winning big trophies will be vital as they look to end 55 years of hurt.
“For me, Jordan is one of the best leaders I have ever played with,” Kane told reporters. “He brings an awful lot to the squad. He is hugely respected among the rest of the players and the staff.
“He’s played at the highest level and won the biggest trophies. I definitely think he will be a big part of us going far in this tournament.
“He’s been working hard and training hard to get as fit as possible to be ready whenever called upon. I hugely respect Jordan and I’m very happy that he’s here with us in this camp.”
Jordan Henderson's fitness has been questioned ahead of Euro 2020
(Image: Getty Images)
Were England right to include Jordan Henderson in their squad? Have your say here
Southgate could recall Henderson to the line-up for the visit of Scotland, but with the prospect of six more fixtures before next month’s final, it may make sense to give him extra recovery time.
Harry Maguire was another player to be named in his squad, despite lingering injury problems.
The Manchester United defender missed the final month of the campaign with an ankle injury, but is available for the Scotland clash, Southgate has confirmed.
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"Harry will be involved tomorrow. The decision we’ve got to make is whether he is ready to start," Southgate told a press conference on Thursday evening.
"But we are really pleased on his progress. He has trained with the team for four or five days now and had no reaction.”
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