Gareth Southgate has claimed he ‘would be stupid’ to rule Jordan Henderson out of contention for future England squads just because he has moved to the Saudi Pro League.
The 33-year-old left Liverpool for Al Ettifaq last month and was reunited with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard who’s currently in charge of the Saudi outfit.
The England boss insists Henderson’s Three Lions future cannot yet be determined until he assesses the quality on show in the Middle East.
“I spoke to him in the summer, the question he wanted to know was ‘if I move here, are you going to automatically rule me out?’” Southgate told talkSPORT.
“We would be stupid to do that. Why would we rule anyone out based on where they are playing? We have got to see how they are playing.
“We have an idea of what that league will look like but we won’t know until we actually start to see the games.
“If you asked me three months ago what that league would look like, I’d have a very different idea to what it is looking like as more and more players decide to go there.
“Big-name players but not so many that are in the prime of their careers but not players past their sell-by date.
“I think that whole project is fascinating for where it is going to head and what that might look like over the next few years.
“But Henderson won’t be playing in the Premier League. He won’t play in the Champions League, which is the easiest assessment for the level he is playing at.”
Our former No. 14’s decision to move to Saudi Arabia came as a huge surprise to a lot of people.
Although the midfielder may have been aware that his playing time this season was going to be somewhat limited following the arrivals of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai and also with him now 33 years of age Liverpool supporters still expected to see him stick around.
He was a vital player but he was also a hugely important character off the pitch and in the dressing room.
A number of world-class players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane are going to be plying their trade in Saudi next season so that standard of the league may surprise some people.
Let’s hope Henderson and Gerrard can hit the ground running in the Middle East and we’d certainly like to see the former representing his nation once again in the future.