Southgate to select Henderson despite fan boos


England boss Gareth Southgate maintained his support for Jordan Henderson after the midfielder was booed during the win over Australia on Friday, reiterating that he’ll make selections on the basis of who is most likely to help the team win and not popularity.

Asked at a news conference on Monday if he would still pick Henderson if the jeers continued, Southgate was unequivocal.

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“Yes, 100%. I’ll always pick the players that I think are the best player to represent the team, that give us the best chance of winning unless there is something that I feel is not appropriate,” Southgate said.

“In this instance, people may disagree with Jordan’s stance, or his decision, given the stance he’s taken in the past, to support the LGBT community. But I don’t think that’s a reason to not select him and I don’t think that’s a reason to boo him.”

Southgate later added: “If I just select on popularity contest, then our team would look very very different.”

Henderson moved to the Saudi Pro League from Liverpool on a three-year deal in July. The switch to Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal, made headlines as Henderson has long been a vocal supporter of the LGBT community.

Southgate said on after the game on Friday that he didn’t understand the booing, claiming it “defies logic.”

On Tuesday he explained that stance, saying: “I don’t understand why we would boo our own team.

“I don’t believe he’s an individual whose values and principals have changed, and I would back him against pretty much everybody in the country in terms of what he stands for, what he believes in.

“But I accept that the decision to go and play there does not align with that. He understands that, he accepts that.”

Henderson himself told Sky Sports that he intends to continue playing for his country for as long as possible.

England play Italy at Wembley on Tuesday in a rematch of the last European Championship final in 2021.

The hosts sit three points ahead of their visitors at the top of the qualification group. An England win would be enough to seal their spot at the 2024 edition.


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