Roy Keane has blasted Gareth Southgate ’s decision to include Jordan Henderson in England’s squad for this summer’s European Championships.
The Liverpool star has not played since February after suffering a groin injury in the Merseyside derby defeat to Everton, for which he underwent surgery.
Despite his glaring lack of match fitness though, Southgate opted to include Henderson in his squad, over the likes of Jesse Lingard and James Ward-Prowse.
Though he was named on the bench for both Liverpool’s last game of the season and for England’s first warm-up match against Austria, Henderson still has not played since suffering his injury.
He was set to play some part in the win over Austria, but was left on the bench after complaining of discomfort on the day of the match.
There continues to be a question mark over his readiness to play in the Three Lions’ first game of Euro 2020 and Croatia next Sunday.
Southgate’s decision to include Henderson despite that has now been questioned by Keane, who revealed his belief that the midfielder should play no part for England this summer.
“It is already a distraction for Jordan,” Keane told ITV in their pre-match build-up for the second warm-up game against Romania.
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“I was convinced he was going to play the other day, I know they was talk of him coming on for the second 45 minutes but why isn’t he playing the first 45 minutes when there is more intensity.
“I don’t think Jordan should be involved, if he can’t keep fit. He hasn’t kicked a ball in three and a half months, he can’t be right.
“They want him round the place, for what? Does he do card tricks, does he have a sing song, does he do quizzes in the evening? What is he there for?”
Keane is also of the belief that Henderson has been rushed back from his injury and highlighted the fact that he was able to start against Romania of proof that he is not fit.
“He doesn’t want to be some sort of cheerleader, he will want to play. He is clearly nowhere near it,” Keane said.
“What you need after three or four months off is four or five games maybe, he is clearly not fit enough.
“He’s not fit, if he can’t start today for 45 minutes in a game that isn’t that intense physically or mentally, how is he going to start in a few weeks at a top international game?
“They are kidding themselves.”
Keane’s fellow pundit, and former England international, Ashley Cole agreed with the Irishman.
A veteran of three World Cups and two European Championships, the former left-back also questioned what role Henderson will have if he cannot play.
“Do I think Henderson is a game winner and a match winner? Probably not,” he told ITV.
“That is why it is a risk taking him. I think Roy is right, you don’t want players to be around just to be cheerleaders.”