England boss Gareth Southgate has confessed he will speak to midfielder Jordan Henderson after the Liverpool man forced his way to the front of the queue for a penalty, only to see his effort saved.
Ten minutes after Marcus Rashford had given England the lead through his own penalty, England were awarded another spot kick and Henderson quickly made sure it was his. He took the ball from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had won the penalty, only to see his effort saved.
Fortunately, it did not come back to bite England as they held on for the victory, after which Southgate confirmed that he will speak to Henderson to ensure the penalty fiasco does not happen again.
“I was expecting Dominic to take it and when Hendo walked over I thought he was making sure that happened, so I will have to check what happened,” said Southgate (via The Guardian). “We will pull rank next time.
“Marcus and James Ward-Prowse were the two nominated at the start of the game and they’d both come off. But Hendo was the captain on the field by then. He was the one to make the decision. If I was Dom as the centre-forward I might not have gone along with that so easily.”
The penalty miss capped off a frustrating 45-minute cameo from Henderson, who was making his first appearance since undergoing groin surgery in February. He looked visibly rusty and remains an enormous doubt to start England’s first Euro 2020 game against Croatia on June 13.
“It’s a step forward for him physically today, which was important for him to be able to play some sort of part in the tournament and we are realistic about what that could be,” the boss said. “We’re not hanging our hat on him being fit. If we can get him to a good level then that’s a bonus.”
To say Henderson was the only underperformer for England would be unfair. Just as they were in the previous warm-up friendly against Austria, the Three Lions were below par and Southgate admitted his side need to improve drastically by the time they get to the Euros.
“We had chances to make it more comfortable but so did they,” he said. “In the first half, we did not work hard enough without the ball, we were too stretched and did not press well.
“It was not easy for the group of players we put together: a lot of changes from the other night, players who were making their debuts, some who needed minutes, players who have had injury or illness.
“There were a lot of different elements on the pitch and, clearly, the performance needs to improve from what we did today. But it is nice to win and we have certainly learnt a lot from the game.”