England are taking a cautious approach to Jordan Henderson‘s thigh injury, with it unlikely Gareth Southgate will risk the Liverpool captain against Denmark in midweek.
Henderson played for the first time since September 20 as he captained England to a 2-1 victory over Belgium on Sunday, having suffered a thigh injury against Chelsea.
It was a welcome boost for the Reds, as they await confirmation of a positive COVID-19 test for Naby Keita and with Fabinho due to return late from Brazil duty, with the Merseyside derby coming up on Saturday.
The 30-year-old could start against Everton, though the returning Thiago is an option along with the likes of Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Curtis Jones, with Jurgen Klopp typically favouring his captain for big games.
Fortunately, then, Southgate and Klopp appear to be on the same page when it comes to managing Henderson’s fitness, with the England manager unsure whether he will start again for the clash with Denmark on Wednesday night.
“We’ll have to assess both him and Jordan, but certainly Harry should be able to play more minutes,” he said of Henderson and Harry Kane, who is also struggling with fatigue.
“Jordan is a little bit more complicated because with his club, he had 60 in his first match then 45 the following week.
“So we are going to have to assess him very carefully.”
This comes as Klopp described Henderson’s callup to the England squad as a “win-win situation,” despite the midfielder having missed four of the last five games for Liverpool.
“I was in close contact with Gareth Southgate and it’s clear he’ll use the time with the national team to get match fit,” he told reporters at the start of the month.
In a way, then, Henderson is using this international break as a pre-season, having missed the entirety of the Reds’ preparations for the campaign, and with this in mind, he is likely to start on the bench against Denmark.
Coming on for half an hour would be a sensible compromise, allowing him to get around 90 minutes in his legs before returning to Melwood ahead of the Merseyside derby.
Given the other options at Southgate’s disposal, with Declan Rice, Harry Winks, James Ward-Prowse and Kalvin Phillips all in the squad, there is no need for Henderson to be thrown into another essentially meaningless UEFA Nations League tie.
This “careful” approach is encouraging, and with the midfielder having come through 66 minutes at Wembley unscathed, he can build towards a return to the field with Liverpool.