Jordan Henderson has laughed off criticism from Roy Keane after the former Manchester United captain questioned the midfielder’s involvement in England’s Euro 2020 squad.
Henderson was selected in England’s 26-man squad but made his first appearance since February in the 1-0 friendly win over Romania on Sunday after recovering from a groin injury.
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Before the game, Keane criticised England coach Gareth Southgate for Henderson’s inclusion and told ITV: “It’s already a distraction for Jordan. I was convinced he was going to play the other day and maybe start a game.
“I know there’s talk he will come on for the second 45 minutes, but why not start him in the first 45 minutes where there’s obviously more intensity?
“I think it’s a huge distraction. Clearly Jordan is not fit. I don’t think he should be involved. I’ve heard lots of people say they want him around the place? For what? Does he do card tricks?
“Does he have a sing-song? Do quizzes in the evenings? What does he do? And if you’re Liverpool then you wouldn’t be happy either.”
Henderson, who missed a second-half penalty in England’s win, responded to Keane’s comments and told reporters on Monday: “To be fair to Roy, he can say what he wants about me.
“He gave me my debut and I wouldn’t be here without him giving me that. I found it quite funny, actually. Listen, we know a little bit more detail — I know more detail and so does the manager … which Roy may not.
“But in terms of stuff like that, everyone’s going to have an opinion, everybody’s going to think they know better than everyone else.”
He added: “Yeah, and the card tricks he [Keane] was on about. I’ve got a few of them up my sleeve. As a player, you want to play. I’m not coming here just to be around the camp, like Roy was saying. Whenever I’m called upon, I’ll be ready and hopefully I can make a big contribution.”
The Liverpool captain also said supporters who booed players for taking a knee before matches proved racism is still an issue and that the team will continue to take a stand during the European Championship.
There were jeers from a small section of spectators at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough when players took the knee before England’s friendly wins over Austria and Romania.
England teammate Luke Shaw said the players will continue taking a knee and before Sunday’s opener against Croatia, Henderson added: “It shows that if there are still people booing because we’re standing together against racism, then there still is a problem and we’ve still got to fight it and stand together.
“It shows even more that we have to keep going, keep fighting it. From our side, it’s about being together and doing what we think is right.”
In an open letter to fans on Wednesday, Southgate said his team will not “just stick to football” during the Euros and that it was his responsibility to put debates such as racial awareness in the spotlight.