Mourinho names Henderson in England team to beat Croatia

Date published: Sunday 13th June 2021 10:07 - Will Ford

Jose Mourinho Tottenham Roma

Jose Mourinho says Dean Henderson should start in goal for England against Croatia on Sunday.

The Portuguese manager snubbed Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling in an England XI he would back to beat the side that knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup.

There is speculation as to whether Gareth Southgate will start with a back four or five and who will start alongside Harry Kane.

READ MORE: Henderson stuck at start of Liverpool saga for England

And Mourinho has had his say on England’s opener in his column for The Sun.

He said: “For Sunday’s game, I would go with Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips to bring more stability. Phillips is someone who gives a team balance — you can’t play all your attacking players.

“Also, I wouldn’t start Raheem Sterling and I don’t think he would mind that as much as you’d imagine.

“For me, Sterling is a player to come from the bench, to kill opponents who are tired and who have yellow cards.

“If you take off a more technical player, like Phil Foden or Jack Grealish, and replace him with a player with speed to attack the space, I would say Sterling is a player for that role.

“If that happens and brings Sterling an extra boost of confidence, then of course he has the quality to start.

“I know Sterling is an experienced player and has been a regular England starter for many years, but I want to believe the national team is a special habitat. Especially in tournaments.

“I think players buy in more to their national team’s spirit. You see them celebrating like they don’t do at their clubs.

“You see the behaviour of the benches. You see the way they speak before and after matches.

“When one of the guys who is not a starter comes out to speak, they are always positive, always respectful.

“I believe players get a sense of ‘this is an honour, this is a duty’.

“There’s a sense of duty to everybody in the nation.

“So I think the guy that is on the bench for his country doesn’t feel the same way as if he’s been left out by his club.

“I love the right winger to be left footed and vice versa, so I would go with Foden and Grealish, with Mason Mount behind Harry Kane.

“Marcus Rashford, I don’t think he can play on the right. He is a different player on the left to the right. On the right, he doesn’t find space the way he can when he is on the left. On the left is his more natural position when he can cut in.

“He is not a winger but a striker that plays from the side. His position is from the left but I also feel that’s the best position for Grealish and, at this moment, I feel Grealish has to play.

“There are a crazy number of options. You have Sterling, Rashford to come on if you need to attack spaces, Sancho to break defensive walls and Bellingham who can arrive in the box.

“I would play a flat back-four — Kyle Walker and John Stones with Tyrone Mings and Ben Chilwell.

“I don’t see why you go with a three against Croatia because their strength is in midfield with Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic. Then they have Ivan Perisic on one side, Ante Rebic on the other, but they don’t have top attacking players.

“I don’t see the need to play three at the back but of having a midfield that can compete. Because if not, even if they aren’t a team that scores a lot of goals, Croatia are capable of dominating the game.

“If you let Kovacic, Modric and Brozovic play, I’m not saying they kill you, but they can disturb you.

“I think it’s more important to have a strong midfield and win the game from there. Because you always have three attacking players, which is more than enough.

“And Croatia aren’t very strong in defence with Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida — they aren’t young guys any more.

“I love all England’s right-backs but I’d choose Kyle. I love Reece James, too, but I’d go for Walker for his experience and he has a touch of a centre-back, so he can build attacks from a defensive three.

England F365

“Without the injured Harry Maguire, I say Mings because the team needs a voice and leadership.

“He is like a captain at Aston Villa, very vocal — aggressive in communication.

“Without Maguire, Stones needs that. Stones needs Ruben Dias, he needs Maguire, he needs Mings.

“At left-back, I think Luke Shaw had a good season but for this game I prefer Chilwell. He is stable, makes very few mistakes and is good going forward. He comes from a Chelsea back five but he’s intelligent. He’s good in the air and it’s important to have people to give you strength and power on defensive set-pieces.

“England shouldn’t be afraid to push up and control midfield, to stop them hiding the ball. Croatia aren’t a counter-attacking team. They need the ball.

“Stones is very fast, Walker too. Mings is not very fast but reads the game very well.

“Behind them, I’d have Dean Henderson in goal. Not because I don’t like Jordan Pickford, but because I was so impressed with Henderson when he was a kid at Manchester United.

“He trained with me and was with me in the squad that won the League Cup final.

“When he asked me to go on loan to Shrewsbury he told me, ‘The next time you see me I’ll come back as No 1’.

“We were all looking at each other thinking, ‘This kid is crazy, he hasn’t played one game for us and thinks he can go to Shrewsbury and come back as the No 1’.

“But it just shows his  positive attitude.

“United did an amazing job too with his development through loans — Shrewsbury, then Sheffield United in the Championship, then letting him stay there for the Premier League. I think he’s a very good goalkeeper.

“Finally, I predict a win for  Gareth Southgate’s team, though not  an easy win, to break all this negativity about England having never won their first game at the Euros.”


Euro 2020 is finally here – and what better way to celebrate than with a preview show to mark the launch of our new multi-sport website Planet Sport?


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