After the debacle that was England’s catastrophic Euro 2016 campaign, the long road to redemption begins with this weekend’s tussle with Slovakia.
New boss Sam Allardyce will be hoping it isn’t a case of déjà vu from the summer where England whimpered to a 0-0 draw against the eastern European nation. Consequently, the ex-Sunderland manager will be looking to make prominent changes from Hodgson’s approach.
Despite this, the role of Jordan Henderson will be unaffected. It appears the Liverpool midfielder strongly suits Allardyce’s proposed approach to the fixture, albeit recent poor form.
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Since the departure of Steven Gerrard and Henderson’s ascension to the captaincy, the ex-Sunderland man has experienced tumultuous form at Anfield.
While there can be little doubting the 26-year-old’s quality on his day, recent performances have seen many label him as overrated. Given his start to the season and in particular his horrendous outing at Burnley; the stagnation is showing little sign of halting.
Consequently, although his inclusion in Allardyce’s first England squad was far from the most controversial decision, it certainly didn’t have Three Lions fans weak at the knees.
After all, Henderson’s only start of Euro 2016, versus Slovakia, was somewhat non-descript. It’s clearly proven enough for ‘Big Sam’ to keep a degree of faith in the midfielder though.
Starting XI inclusion
Surprisingly however, his showings have not only been enough to keep him in the squad, but sufficient to secure a place in the starting XI.
For all the criticism Henderson has come in for in recent weeks, most of which deserving, Allardyce seems unfazed. It appears that the midfielder’s defensive nous is enough to warrant his inclusion.
The England boss revealed that it’s this desired ‘defensive solidarity’ that sees Henderson favoured. It has come as a shock to many and unless the move pays off, Allardyce may be getting off to a bad start with supporters.
It can only be hoped that Henderson defies his questionable Liverpool form and sparkles with the Three Lions on his chest.
Conversely though, after the defensive gaffes that littered the summer showings, a conservative approach is understandable.
After all, the Slovakia clash did prove England’s only clean sheet and Henderson played the whole 90 minutes. The 26-year-old may be seen as on the wane, but Allardyce evidently begs to differ.
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