It’s been a tough journey for Jordan Henderson to get to this point.
After picking up an injury midseason for Liverpool, it was obvious his focus would be on getting fit for the European Championships with England. He achieved that... mostly. Henderson’s value is clear to England manager Gareth Southgate as one of the leaders of the team, so they were always likely to do whatever it takes to include him.
That’s been a little touch and go at times. It’s clear Henderson has not been fit for 90 minutes. Southgate has generally started West Ham’s Declan Rice and Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips in central midfield. Both are useful players, but obviously neither has competed at the highest level as often as Henderson.
Could that change tonight? England are facing a very good Italy side, one much shrewder than previous opponents Denmark and Ukraine. It might be the perfect time to unleash Henderson, after slowly building up his fitness over the tournament. It’s certainly nice for any team to have an option like this.
Whether Henderson starts or not, he’ll likely at least get off the bench, and this is the sort of game that could help cement his legacy as one of England’s finest midfielders. Having won everything he has at Liverpool, an international title is the only thing missing from his CV. Get that done, and you have one of the most successful midfielders of his generation.
Win or lose, his status in Liverpool is secure regardless. But it would be nice for his sake if he could get that medal.