After the heartbreak of England’s penalty shoot-out defeat, Jordan Henderson has called on his fellow countrymen to use their European Championships experience as “fuel” to improve.
As a youthful Three Lions side fell at the final hurdle, it was Marcus Rashford (23), Jadon Sancho (21) and Bukayo Saka (19) who missed the crucial spot kicks. But the experienced England vice-captain has urged his international teammates to learn from this summer’s events and build on what has otherwise been a successful campaign.
The Reds captain said: “Of course you need to learn from the experience.
“It’s disappointing now but we will go away and have a little break, it will eat at you a little bit and you have to use it as fuel to want more, to achieve more and keep pushing each other.”
Henderson also believes that the squad assembled by manager Gareth Southgate is capable of coming back stronger ahead of the World Cup next year.
“Hopefully we can bounce back from this. I’m sure we will. We have Qatar coming up in 16 months, we are in good shape, what we have created is really special. I’m really proud of the lads and I’m looking forward to what we can do going forward.”
The Three Lions seem well positioned to answer Henderson’s rallying call, too. Southgate took the second-youngest squad to the competition and despite this lack of experience, still came so close. His side are clearly on an upward trajectory, reaching the semi-finals of the last World Cup and now the final of the Euros.
Southgate has already confirmed his intention to remain in charge of the side after the agonising Euros defeat. With another season or so of experience under this young side’s belt, and a chance to build upon this character-strengthening performance at the Euros, who would bet against England going one step further in Qatar?
England are, according to the bookies at least, the third-favourites to lift the trophy in 2022. Joint-favourites France and Brazil are rated a 6/1 chance by most bookmakers, while England’s price of 17/2 puts them ahead of the likes of Germany and Spain (both 10/1), newly-crowned Copa America champions Argentina (12/1) and even England’s conquerors Italy (11/1).
Of course, they first need to escape their qualifying group. But that seems a given, as three games into the ten match campaign, they have already claimed maximum points, courtesy of victories against Albania, San Marino and Poland, who would have been seen as the biggest threat to their chances of qualification.
Most sports betting firms are so certain that the Three Lions will make it to Qatar, they have stopped taking bets. If you look around using comparison sites, you will still find one or two UK bookmakers offering bets on England to top their qualification group. But you’ll also find a comparison of other betting features like deposit bonuses and free bets, and secure payment options.
A big boost to England’s chances of qualifying, and indeed their hopes of further success at an international tournament, will be the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez returning from injuries. Both players undoubtedly have a bright international future ahead of them.
Alexander-Arnold in particular could have a crucial role to play in a white shirt. He had been named in this summer’s tournament squad, only to be forced out at the last minute due to a torn thigh muscle. Liverpool clubmate Gomez had played an integral role in England’s Nations League campaign, until sustaining a serious knee injury back in November.
Before either of them think about helping England get to Qatar, there’s the small matter of Liverpool’s pre-season. Trent has already been on the grass with teammates at the Reds’ training base in Austria, but Gomez, along with Virgil van Dijk, were both mysteriously absent. Klopp has stated that both are yet to be fully integrated with the squad as they continue to rebuild their fitness levels.
Van Dijk of course, was injured back in October, after a collision with Jordan Pickford. The England goalkeeper may have been a hero this summer, but he will be remembered as a villain at Anfield for many years, thanks to that horror tackle.