MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Wednesday, July 11, 2018: England's Jordan Henderson is substituted by England's manager Gareth Southgate during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Semi-Final match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Southgate casts fitness doubt over Jordan Henderson for Euro opener

Gareth Southgate has placed doubt over Jordan Henderson‘s chances of featuring in England’s Euros opener in nine days time as he continues his push toward full fitness.

The Liverpool captain has long been in a race against time after undergoing surgery in February for a groin issue that would keep him on the sidelines for three months.

His return to full team training in the final week of Liverpool’s season saw him make the final cut for England’s 26-man squad, where he continues to make progress back to match fitness.

But after sitting on respective benches for the Reds and the Three Lions, and training alongside the club’s under-18s, he would then feel discomfort while with England before the match against Austria.

The England vice-captain was sent for a scan that showed no new issue, but caution was seemingly the message when Southgate spoke to the press.

“I don’t think it would be fair to rule him out of it but I think it’s clear to everyone how much football he’s missed,” Southgate said of Henderson.

HERNING, DENMARK - Wednesday, December 9, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Champions League Group D match between FC Midtjylland and Liverpool FC at the Herning Arena. (Pic by Lars Møller/Propaganda)

“The timelines are getting more difficult with each training session he might miss. But I’m being very realistic about what’s possible here.”

A potential cameo against Romania on Sunday is unlikely to be enough for a more prominent role in the Euro opener or potentially even the following group games, but his off-field presence remains vital for his manager.

“It’s a decision we took [to select Henderson] because we have been able to take extra players and we feel he is such an important influence around the place,” Southgate continued.

“If we can get him close to being able to contribute on the pitch against Croatia that will be a real bonus at the moment.”

Knowing the player Henderson is, he won’t settle until he’s given it his all to play a role for England this summer.

His last few days will have been met with some disappointment, most notably the injury that has enforced Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s absence from the Three Lions squad.