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leadership Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane reject Roy Keane's verbal jabs directed at Jordan Henderson

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Jordan Henderson of England stretches during the England Training Session at St George's Park. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Jordan Henderson of England stretches during the England Training Session at St George's Park. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Jordan Henderson of England stretches during the England Training Session at St George's Park. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

England manager Gareth Southgate and his captain Harry Kane have insisted Jordan Henderson has a key role to play this summer's Euro 2020 finals, even if he is not fully fit to play in the group phase.

Roy Keane suggested the Liverpool captain's presence in the England squad was a 'distraction' as he was not fit enough to take part in the early stages of the competition after failing to play since February

Yet Southgate has insisted Henderson has a massive presence in his squad, as he is content with his contribution to the England set-up.

"With a 26-man squad we were able to take a little bit more of a risk with Hendo," said Southgate.

"Those decisions were easier because the consequences of taking players that weren’t match-ready for the first couple of matches perhaps were less impactful than if you only had 23.

"We've got some decent cover in that area of the pitch but the drop-off from not taking Hendo was such that we preferred to give him the opportunity to make it. We've obviously had Jude (Bellingham) come through which has been a real bonus as well as Kalvin (Phillips).

"The decisions might have been different, we'll never know what decisions we would have taken if we had 23 because that was not the scenario we were working with.

"What Hendo brings to the group on the training pitch, what he brings around the camp, his experience, the way he can speak to some of the other players in those quiet moments when you're in around the hotel.

"He's similar to Harry (Kane) in the way he trains and the way he approaches his work. It's a great advantage for us to have him in with the team.

"He is training consistently now and he is getting closer to the level we need him to be at," he revealed. "You've got to have the physical part right, there's no doubt about that, even if it's only for 15-20 minutes of a game.

"You've got to be able to press well and get around the pitch well. But there are other factors when you're building a squad and when you're building a team. All of those parts are key to producing a winning environment."

Kane also gave his backing to Henderson, as he added: "For me, Jordan is one of the best leaders I have ever played with," the England captain told reporters. "He brings an awful lot to the squad. He is hugely respected among the rest of the players and the staff.

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He's played at the highest level and won the biggest trophies. I definitely think he will be a big part to us going far in this tournament.

He's been working hard and training hard to get as fit as possible to be ready whenever called upon. I hugely respect Jordan and I'm very happy that he's here with us in this camp."

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