Henderson urges fans to lay off England’s ‘Covidiots’ – and look at politicians

Jordan Henderson has urged the nation not to be harsh on England's footballers for breaking coronavirus protocols – when the country's politicians don't even follow their own rules.

Henderson, who at the age of 30 is now one of Gareth Southgate's biggest dressing room influences, has played a key role this week in helping the Three Lions boss restore some order to his squad.

Southgate, having already left Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood out of his plans for games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark as a punishment for breaching the quarantine bubble in Iceland last month, was furious to discover that Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho had also broken government guidelines by partying last weekend.

The trio was left out of Thursday night's 3-0 win over Wales – and Henderson insists they will learn from the experience.

But the Liverpool captain, a huge mover behind the Players Together movement which is looking to raise huge sums for the NHS during the pandemic, feels the matter has now been dealt with.

Henderson said: “We know when you play for England there’s a big responsibility and that any little thing you do will come under scrutiny.

“But during Covid, it’s not just footballers who have made mistakes.

“I know we’ll get targeted and that everybody has got to try to do their best.

“But it’s new for us all and over the past few months one or two players may have made some bad decisions.

“But I think that goes for the people in this country in general.

“You look at politicians, you look at businessmen. They have made mistakes as well.

“We’ve all got to try to do the best we possibly can going forwards to try to minimise the virus spreading and try to help to save lives as much as possible.

“But it's not just in football.”

Henderson sat out the victory over Wales but will return to Southgate's side for the visit of the No 1 ranked team in the world.

He believes Southgate has handled himself – despite the England boss being regarded as football's Mr Nice Guy.

Henderson said: “Gareth is a nice guy and may not raise his voice that often, but when he does shout you know it's because something really isn't right.

“He isn't afraid to make tough decisions – as we've seen – and as players we all think he has handled everything really well.

“Gareth has handled certain situations in terms of discipline very well.

“Everyone backs him in what he has said, but at the same time I am a senior player and I have also got to support my team-mates and help them as much as possible.

“It's my responsibility to help the younger lads and help them take good decisions in the future.

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“I think the gaffer has handled certain situations really well – both publicly and privately.”

In the two years since Belgium beat England to clinch third place at the World Cup, Roberto Martinez's men have risen to No 1 in the FIFA rankings.

Henderson, who will next month mark the 10th anniversary of winning his first cap against France, believes England have also continued on an upward trajectory.

He said: “I feel the game against Wales was very good.

“There's still a lot to improve on, but I liked the togetherness of the group.

“And I have liked the training intensity that I’ve been involved in this week.

“I suppose there’s no better game to learn from than Belgium, with them being world No 1 at the moment.

“For us, no matter what system we play, we need to have the same identity all the time.

“That means playing with passion and desire – and also just being horrible to play against.”

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