Jordan Henderson likely to miss Euro 2016 with knee ligament injury

• Liverpool midfielder ruled out for six to eight weeks
• Roy Hodgson wants players to be match fit for England

Jordan Henderson’s hopes of competing at the European Championship have been dealt a severe blow after he was ruled out for six to eight weeks with a knee ligament injury. The prognosis means Liverpool will be without their captain for the rest of the season even in the event of Jürgen Klopp’s team reaching the Europa League final on 18 May.

The England international damaged his knee when landing awkwardly in the first half of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund and underwent a scan upon his return to Merseyside on Friday. The results allayed concerns of a cruciate ligament injury but revealed damage to the lateral collateral ligament, which can result in a three-month lay-off.

Encouragingly for Henderson, however, the scan showed the injury to his LCL is isolated. That gives the 25-year-old hope of recovering within six to eight weeks but leaves him struggling to prove his match fitness to Roy Hodgson before Euro 2016. The England manager is due to name his 23-man squad for the tournament on 12 May and has declared a reluctance to include players who are not match fit.

The Liverpool captain does not require surgery, only treatment and an intensive period of rehabilitation, but would not play again for his club this season with a six-week recovery. It is six weeks from the Europa League quarter-final first leg in Dortmund to the day after the final in Basel.

An eight-week absence would also force Henderson to miss England’s three warm-up friendlies before Euro 2016 and give Hodgson little choice but to omit him from the squad. England play Turkey at Manchester City on 22 May, Australia at the Stadium of Light on 27 May and Portugal at Wembley on 2 June. They represent Henderson’s only opportunities to gain match fitness before the squad leaves for France.

Hodgson will be in regular contact with the Liverpool medical staff to gauge the midfielder’s recovery before announcing his squad in five weeks’ time.

The England manager, who also has fitness doubts over the Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, is a firm admirer of Henderson and will not rule out his inclusion at the European Championship at this stage. But he faces a selection dilemma over the Liverpool captain given the limited number of matches before the tournament begins.

Before England’s friendlies against Spain and France in November, Hodgson said he would judge players recovering from injury on an individual basis. “But if you want a philosophy,” he added, “I wouldn’t be happy to really take players with us in the hope that they will become fit during the tournament. I would rather have 23 players who are all fit and ready to go and capable of playing from the very first minute when I name the squad.”

The injury on Thursday in Dortmund is the latest problem to befall Henderson in his first season as Liverpool captain. He has been sidelined by the heel condition plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and has played on after the tissue ruptured, and sustained a broken bone in his foot earlier in the season.

For Klopp, who is without the suspended Emre Can for Liverpool’s next two Premier League games against Stoke City and Bournemouth, the loss of Henderson will test his resources in central midfield with Dortmund due at Anfield for the second leg next Thursday.

Dejan Lovren has attributed Liverpool’s defensive improvement to a greater understanding throughout Klopp’s team and believes his display against Dortmund showed he has learned from previous mistakes. The defender said: “After a couple of games together it is much easier to understand each other and we hope to continue like that. Everyone had a great defensive display against Dortmund, from Origi to the goalkeeper.”

As well as securing a valuable draw and away goal in Dortmund, five Liverpool players avoided a booking that would have ruled them out of the second leg at Anfield, Lovren among them.

“I just concentrated on my game and my defensive work and it was OK,” he said. “I will do everything for my team but I think I have learned from my mistakes before with silly bookings. I think I am a little bit cleverer now. I am more experienced.


Andy Hunter

The GuardianTramp

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