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Southgate impressed by Jordan Henderson

Press AssociationPress Association 10/10/2016 Rory Dollard

Jordan Henderson earned the right to replace Wayne Rooney as England captain after successfully stepping out of Steven Gerrard's shadow at Anfield, according to interim national coach Gareth Southgate.

The England manager wants Rooney to remain as national skipper and squad figurehead despite dropping him for Tuesday's game in Slovenia, with Henderson to lead the side for the first time in Ljubljana.

The 26-year-old took the Liverpool armband from local hero Gerrard when the latter left the club in 2015 and has been impressive in the role.

And that was not lost on Southgate as he chose the midfielder ahead of other candidates such as Joe Hart and Gary Cahill.

"What stood out for me is that he has taken over as captain at a club where he has succeeded one of the most iconic English footballers of all time," said Southgate.

"That would have been a difficult challenge for him and he has matured from that. He has shown great leadership skills with his club.

"He is used to being captain which is important. He has got a voice and an opinion within this group and he has got his clear ideas of what we need to work on."

Rooney, who volunteered to take the press conference at Southgate's side despite being excused duty, offered his own tribute to Henderson.

"I think Jordan's a fantastic leader," he said.

"He's taken an incredibly difficult job from Steven Gerrard and he's really grown into that position. He's a fantastic player with great leadership qualities.

"He deserves his chance tomorrow night to captain England."

The other beneficiary of Rooney's demotion is Tottenham anchorman Eric Dier.

The Spurs man was arguably England's best performer at Euro 2016 and offers greater defensive qualities than Rooney and Southgate explained a simple tactical analysis helped make up his mind.

"That's entirely the basis of the decision, we're away from home, it's a different tactical challenge...so as the coach you've got to look at what the right set up is for that game," he said.

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