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Henderson absence baffling - he is exactly what England needed

Jordan Henderson remained on the bench for the full 90 minutes as England drew 0-0 with Scotland at Euro 2020.

While both sides had their chances, England dominated possession for the majority of the game.

John Stones came closest with a header against the post in the first half.

Yet Scotland, led by Andy Robertson, probably had the best of the chances throughout the tie.

One could argue that they even played the better football, despite the lack of possession.

The Scots defended excellently. England’s front three of Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Harry Kane hardly got a sniff.

Mason Mount had little impact between the lines while Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips failed to control the tempo from deep.

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It seemed obvious that Gareth Southgate’s side needed an injection of leadership and energy in their game.

That is why it is simply baffling that Jordan Henderson watched the full game from the bench.

Henderson is the best midfielder in the England squad – they must use him

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As we know, Henderson is not 100% fit. He has not started a game since February, with his only action coming in a 45-minute cameo in a warm-up game against Romania.

Yet all the talk from Southgate and Henderson himself suggested that he was ready to go.

If he was fit enough to play 45 minutes over a week ago, he must have been fit to play 15 or 20 minutes against Scotland.

If he wasn’t, then why was he on the bench?

Admittedly, a second-place finish could be better for the Three Lions than topping the group. But surely Southgate wanted to beat their neighbours and ensure qualification to the last 16.

If he did, then not using Henderson is almost unforgivable.

Don’t get us wrong, Rice and Phillips are fantastic players. But both of them are natural No 6’s and do not offer all that much going forward.

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When England were dominating the ball, they needed somebody to demand it and move it forward quickly with quality.

When the game got frantic and Scotland started to get chances, they needed someone to get a hold of the ball and slow it down.

Henderson has the ability to do both of these. In fact, he does it as well as anybody in Europe.

If he came on, he would have given the entire team a lift. Just his presence would have been enough, but his elite forward passing ability would have been huge.

The game was crying out for him, yet Southgate didn’t spot it.

If things don’t go to plan in matchday 3, he will live to regret it.

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