Belfast Telegraph

Jordan Henderson backs Gareth Southgate to inspire England

By Rory Dollard

Jordan Henderson says England's players want to work with interim manager Gareth Southgate "for a long time".

Southgate answered an SOS from the Football Association after Sam Allardyce's unexpected and embarrassing exit two weeks ago and is already halfway into a four-game stint in charge.

Having started with a 2-0 win over a compliant Malta side at Wembley, Southgate's team were second best to Slovenia on Tuesday night and needed a string of superb saves from Joe Hart to leave Ljubljana with a goalless draw.

The former Middlesbrough manager made a bold statement on the eve of that clash, dropping captain Wayne Rooney to the bench and handing the armband to Liverpool skipper Henderson.

Although England hardly flourished in Rooney's absence, it was a brave decision that suggested Southgate has a long-term vision for the side.

Next month's double header against Scotland and Spain could determine whether he gets to implement it but Henderson was clear when asked if the dressing room supported him.

"Yeah, the players have got on really well with him this week," he said.

"We're close as a group and we've had meetings about what we want to do as a team. The manager has been brilliant with us so we need to put in the performances, not just for ourselves, but the fans and him and the coaching staff as well to make sure we keep working together for a long time."

Henderson's affinity with Southgate is understandable, having turned in a man-of-the-match performance against Malta and then been promoted to the captaincy following Rooney's demotion.

When Rooney emerged from the bench in the 73rd minute, Henderson immediately handed him the armband.

"It was just for this game," Henderson said of his captaincy.

"I think Wayne handled the whole thing brilliantly. Even at half-time he was trying to help the lads, telling us how he thought we could improve in the second half.

"He wished us all the best, but he's the one we all follow. He's the captain and one we all look up to.

"I get on well with Wayne and he just said 'keep on doing what you have been doing' because that's why you've been given the role'."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph