Gareth Southgate has esponded to Roy Keane ruthless comments on Jordan Henderson being selected England’s Euro 2020 squad. Henderson was a key cog in the midfield during the 2018 World Cup run in Russia but has only just come back from injury.

Referencing Henderson, who made his first appearance since February, Keane said the management were “kidding themselves” if they believed the Liverpool captain would make an impact at the European championships. He described his inclusion as “a huge distraction, stating that “I don’t think he should be involved. If he can’t start against Romania, he’s not fit”.

In typical Keano fashion, he then double-downed on things by joking: “I’ve heard a lot of 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 evening? What does he do?” He went so far as to suggest that his club won’t be happy being taken as “some sort of cheerleader”.

Southgate has since responded to Keane’s criticism, arguing that “we are not distracted by anything. We know the situation Hendo is in, he’s been a very positive influence around the camp with the group”.

The England manager stuck by his selection and the player, stating that it was “a step forward for him physically [against Romania] which was important for him to be able to play some sort of part in the tournament” before caveating that the camp are being “realistic about what that could be.”

While he did admit that “We’re not hanging our hat on him being fit”, he said that “if we can him to a good level then that’s a bonus and that the debate (if there is one at all) is “not a situation where it’s dividing the group or it’s unrealistic what’s possible”.

In fairness, it was pretty harsh even from Keane. Henderson may have gone on to cause a bit of stir by missing the penalty after he took the ball out of Dominic Calvert-Lewin‘s hands, but the 30-year-old didn’t look particularly out of place or unfit and clearly does play a pivotal even if often unsung role both on and off the pitch – he wouldn’t be ‘rushed’ back otherwise.

Southgate did concede that the penalty debacle was unexpected and, by the sounds of it, off-colour for how the team prepares. However, he doesn’t look willing to let it become the negatively charged narrative certain sections of the media want it to be. Good on ya, Gaz.