England’s Kalvin Phillips hits back at a jibe from former player turned pundit Roy Keane about Jordan Henderson during the Romania game.
The Leeds footballer has rubbished Roy Keane’s claim that the Liverpool midfielder will be a “huge distraction” in the England camp due to not being fully fit.
Keane went viral over the last week as took aim at Henderson while covering the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 warm-up match against Romania on Sunday.
The Irishman branded the Liverpool captain a “cheerleader” and accused him of not being able to effectively contribute after he missed the final three months of the Premier League season with a groin injury.
Keane also questioned why Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate named Henderson in his final 26-man squad for the summer tournament while downplaying the 30-year-old’s influence on his teammates.
“It’s already a distraction for Jordan,” Keane told ITV Sport. “I was convinced he was going to play the other day [against Austria].
“I know there’s talk he’ll come out for the second half, but why not start him in the first 45 minutes where there will be more intensity?
“In the second half there are going to be plenty of changes. I think it is a huge distraction, I don’t think he should be involved.
“If he can’t start the game against Romania, because physically and mentally today’s game won’t be that tough for him.
“He’s an experienced player but he’s not kicked a ball in three months, going to a European Championship, it’s not right.
“I’ve heard people say they want him around the place – for what? Does he do card tricks? Does he have a sing-song? Does he do quizzes in the evenings?”
Roy Keane on Jordan Henderson… 😬
“Clearly Jordan’s not fit – I don’t think he should be involved… I’ve heard people say they want him around the place – for what? Does he do card tricks? Does he have a sing song? Does he do quizzes in the evenings?” pic.twitter.com/YhYaXxg8FX
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 6, 2021
Despite Keane’s claims, Phillips insists Henderson’s presence in the England camp is invaluable on the eve of the Euros.
“When people say ‘he’s not fit’ and ‘why is he there?’, I just think he’s a good person to have around, especially for the young lads that are here,” Phillips, 25, told Sky Sports .
“There’s a lot of young lads, here for their first tournament as well and it’s good to have somebody who can share their experiences with you.
“In Jordan’s case, whether he’s fit or not, I love having him here. I love speaking to him, I love having him around the place because it just makes it a lot more comfortable for players like me.”
Meanwhile, Henderson, 30, said in response to the jibe: “Yeah, and the card tricks he was on about – I’ve got a few of them up me sleeve!
“Listen, as a player you want to play and I’m not coming here just to be around the camp, like Roy was saying.
“I want to come here and I want to contribute in the games. How much of that is not really down to me, it’s up to the manager to make a decision.
“But whenever I’m called upon, I’ll be ready and hopefully I can be a big contribution to this tournament and our success going forward.
“To be fair to Roy, he can say what he wants about me. He give us me debut and I wouldn’t be here without him giving us that. He can say whatever he wants about me. I found it quite funny, actually.
“So, yeah, listen, we know a little bit more detail, I know more detail and so does the manager, which Roy may not.
“But in terms of stuff like that, everyone’s going to have an opinion, everybody’s going to think they know better than everybody else.”
Henderson said on selection, fitness and preparation: “I was still quite positive and thought I had enough time to train and get back, if not for the end of the season then this tournament.
“I was always quite positive and so were the physics to be fair, but when you’re going through the injury and rehab and stuff, you’re always aware of the timeframe, but I’ve worked really hard.
“I’m fit. You probably wouldn’t know, but I’ve trained for a long time. It’s a little bit different training on your own instead of team training, which I managed to do towards the back end of the season with Liverpool.
“I’m going into the tournament in a good place, but I also realise I haven’t played that much in recent months. But I feel really good and hopefully I can be ready whenever called upon.”
The Premier League player is obviously desperate to start against Croatia on Sunday and, having played such a key role in the 2018 World Cup, he is out for revenge against their nemesis in the semi final in Russia,
He added: “We maybe owe them off last time but we don’t need any extra motivation to be honest, we’re going into a European Championship where we want to be successful and the first game we know is crucial.
“It’s a big game in itself. We don’t need any extra motivation, we know Croatia are a good team, as they proved in 2018. It’s a difficult game but again one we’ll look forward to.”