The 30-year-old midfielder brings leadership and experience to a relatively young Three Lions side.
England manager Gareth Southgate faces a selection dilemma, only days ahead of the beginning of the UEFA Euro 2020. His midfield combination will be one to particularly watch out for. In what looks like a very young and dynamic midfield, Jordan Henderson seems to be the odd figure.
It would only be reasonable of Southgate to pick either Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips or Mason Mount to be his midfield lynchpin. Rice has been one of the first picks for the manager since last year and the 22-year-old is yet to disappoint.
In fact, the West Ham United ace has simply grown into the central midfield role for England. Barring San Marino, he has featured in every single game for the Three Lions.
England’s potential formation and midfielders to suit it
Who Southgate picks also depends on the formation. A regular 4-3-3 would put the manager in a difficult position with the number of attacking options he has at his dispense. However, in the past couple of games, Southgate tried different combinations in a 4-2-3-1 double pivot system.
Phillips could be a key player in this formation after his solid defensive show for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United. Since Mount and Jude Bellingham are still on the young side, the question is who can be the better partner for Phillips – Rice or Henderson?
Comparing the defensive statistics of the duo from the last season in the Premier League, Rice has a better record even though he has played more games than the Liverpool skipper. His tackle success rate, as well as aerial prowess, could prove vital for England.
However, it isn’t always about defending, is it? Defensive midfielders control the tempo of the game and ensure a smooth transition between attack and defence. Here’s where Henderson pitches in.
Jordan Henderson can command England midfield
The 30-year-old is a typical team player and is an ideal leader on the pitch. He might not be very swift with his footwork or dribbling but certainly has a sublime vision. At times, he can provide with some immaculate through balls and catch the opposition defence by surprise.
Moreover, Jordan Henderson hardly ever loses the ball and is rather a good retriever of possession. Along with the tempo, he has a superb directional sense as to where to pass the ball and when. 573 of the 1815 total passes last season were towards his forwards, showing his attacking intellect.
Even in a 4-3-3 formation, Henderson can fit in perfectly well and here, Southgate could rather go for Rice than Phillips. The Henderson-Rice duo can further solidify England’s midfield lineup and would be fascinating to watch against the top oppositions.
Henderson’s importance to Liverpool
It wasn’t a memorable season for Liverpool. For the first time under Jurgen Klopp, the Reds suffered a string of poor results. However, there is a peculiar stat that stands out. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Liverpool’s win percentage with Henderson in the starting XI was 76%. The same without him dropped down to 58%.
Furthermore, the Reds even had a better goalscoring record whenever the skipper was on the team sheet. That clearly indicates the influence he has on the team with his presence.
England are heading into the European Championship with a comparatively young squad. In such a case, they will need a vocal figure like Henderson in the midfield. He can pull the strings of the young side together against a formidable opposition like Croatia. Thus, if Southgate has a choice to make between Rice and Henderson, it will only be sensible to pick the latter.