Gareth Southgate is doing Liverpool a big favour with the way he’s using Jordan Henderson. The Reds couldn’t really ask for more.
Gareth Southgate decided to take Jordan Henderson to Euro 2020, picking him in his squad last month. And that was a massive risk.
The Liverpool captain hadn’t played football since February when he picked up an abductor injury against Everton. Henderson just couldn’t possibly be fully fit for the Euros.
And yet, he went. There were some positive in that for Liverpool but at the same time, plenty of reasons to worry.
The Reds saw how easily injuries can happen last season as they tore through the side. Virtually every player had a spell out – including Henderson.
So knowing he’d take part in a gruelling international tournament was quite scary. It felt like there was a good chance he’d either come back exhausted or injured.
Instead, Southgate is taking a calming approach.
Southgate careful with Henderson
Southgate hasn’t used Henderson much. He gave him the second half against the Czech Republic – a game that didn’t really matter – but that was it for the group stages.
Then he gave Henderson the final ten minutes as England beat Germany. Southgate effectively used the Liverpool captain as a high-energy, experienced safety net as England attempted to see out a lead.
And Liverpool can feel very comfortable with that. Southgate isn’t taking risks with Henderson, instead picking his moments and limiting his minutes.
England are still getting something out of Henderson – and we imagine he’ll play more in the latter stages – but for now, Southgate is taking it easy.
We can’t ask for more. Henderson is still playing a role at Euro 2020, something he almost certainly wants to do. At the same time, there’s currently no major risk of him arriving back injured or tired.
It means we might simply get the best-case scenario out of all this. Without Euro 2020, Henderson would have headed into next season after six months without football.
But he’s using this international tournament to regain his fitness and rhythm. Henderson should return to Liverpool ready and raring to go for the new campaign, completely recovered from injury and with games under his belt.