As Jordan Henderson prepares for a European Championship semi-final with England, it is worth noting that he shouldn’t even be there, having “beat the odds” to return.
Henderson’s 45 minutes in England’s warmup friendly win over Romania last month were his first on the pitch in three-and-a-half months.
Gareth Southgate has since used him sparingly at the Euros, with appearances off the bench against the Czech Republic, Germany and Ukraine, the latter of which saw him score his first senior international goal.
Though Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice have cemented themselves as England’s first-choice midfield pairing, Henderson is clearly playing a vital role on and off the pitch.
But the Liverpool captain should arguably not even be in the squad, having suffered a complete adductor avulsion during the Merseyside derby in February that required surgery and effectively ended his club campaign.
The Athletic‘s James Pearce has explained that, after surgery, Henderson was required to rest for four weeks and, with a three-to-four-month recovery timeline, his chances of a comeback were in doubt.
Pearce quotes a senior club source in explaining that he “beat the odds,” adding that “no one works harder” than the 31-year-old.
There were no days off for Henderson between the start of his rehabilitation and his return to the matchday squad for the final day of the season at home to Crystal Palace, which included early mornings and late nights at Kirkby and a session with the under-18s.
Club fitness staff have remained in contact with their England counterparts throughout, with there being no element of risk taken despite the remarkable nature of the midfielder’s recovery.
Henderson is not expected to start for England against Denmark, but will no doubt be one of Southgate’s first options off the bench if required.
“Hendo is the type you want in and around your team when it’s getting tough,” Liverpool assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders told The Athletic.
“He has the right experience, an absolute will to win and he’s a proper team player.
“He doesn’t settle for anything less than gold, I mean in everything. A true captain with a lot of passion and ambition for competition.”
If the Three Lions make it to the final, they can count on Henderson, whose professionalism, commitment and resolve led him to the tournament against all odds, to help lead them to glory.