Dean Henderson rewarded for Sheffield United displays with England call-up

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson. Picture: Robin Parker/Sportimage
Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson. Picture: Robin Parker/Sportimage
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Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson has described his England call-up as a “dream come true” after being drafted into Gareth Southgate’s senior squad.

Tom Heaton’s withdrawal through injury, means Henderson – on a season-long loan at Bramall Lane from Manchester United – will be involved in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic in Prague on Friday and Bulgaria in Sofia next Monday.

It’s Henderson’s first senior call-up and should he win a cap, the 22-year-old will become the first Blade to do so in the senior set-up since Brian Deane, who earned the last of his three caps in 1992.

Blades boss Chris Wilder said: “This is fantastic recognition for Dean and the club as a whole. Everyone at Sheffield United will be delighted to hear this news, and we wish Dean well on international duty.”

Henderson – who will join the senior squad on Wednesday at St George’s Park – has previously represented England from Under-16 through to the Under-21s.

The 22-year-old said on Twitter: “This is what dreams are made of... it’s a dream come true to receive my first @England senior call up!!”

Henderson had found himself in the spotlight following an error which gifted Liverpool the winning goal in their 1-0 victory at Bramall Lane.

Wilder, though, had always felt the young goalkeeper could quickly put it behind him.

“I think Gareth looks at the bigger picture as well and knows that a young man will make mistakes and how does he recover from it?” Wilder said.

“Dean has made a couple of mistakes in his time and he has recovered wonderfully well.”

Henderson is yet to make a senior appearance for the Old Trafford club, and – after loans spells at Stockport County, Grimsby Town and Shrewsbury Town – is in his second loan spell at Bramall Lane. He was a key figure in helping United clinch promotion to the Premier League last season.

The FA said in a statement that Heaton had returned to Aston Villa for “further assessment” on an unspecified injury sustained during the 5-1 win over Norwich.

Former Bradford City loan stopper Jordan Pickford and Burnley’s Nick Pope are the other keepers in Southgate’s squad.

Henderson joins an England squad who have been briefed on potential racism issues in their back-to-back Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Southgate has already spoken to England’s players about UEFA’s three-step racism protocol ahead of the upcoming internationals.

But Tammy Abraham claims England players are prepared to defy UEFA’s racism protocols if they feel they are inadequate and take it upon themselves to walk off the pitch if someone is targeted.

The second game, in Sofia, will be particularly scrutinised as the hosts will be playing with the Vasil Levski National Stadium partially closed as a sanction following racism in the home games against both Kosovo and the Czech Republic.

England’s players received similar abuse in their qualifier against Montenegro in Podgorica, where they stayed on the pitch and ran out 5-1 winners.

Southgate has said that, going forward, England will follow UEFA’s three-step protocol for racial abuse.

The first step is for the referee to made aware of any racism and halt the game for an announcement to be made, secondly – if the abuse continues – the referee will suspend the game for a period of time.

The third and final step will see the official abandon the game – but Abraham has suggested, if England’s players believe someone is not comfortable, captain Harry Kane will lead them off the field of play before the three steps are played out if they are not working.

“Yes, we’ve had meetings, several meetings about it since we’ve arrived yesterday,” he said.

“We’ve touched base on how to deal with the situation. Harry Kane even said that if it happens and we’re not happy with it, we speak to the player and if he’s not happy, we all come off the pitch together.

“It’s a team thing. Don’t isolate one person, we’re a whole team. If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us.

“We did speak about that. Harry Kane did ask the question about instead of going through the three steps, if we decide that we want to stop the game and we want to stop the game – no matter what the score is – if we’re not happy with it, as a team we’ll decide whether or not to stay on the pitch.”

Ashley Young was subjected to monkey chants in Sofia during an England game in 2011, but the Bulgarian Football Union (BFS) only received a 40,000 euros (£34,000) fine by UEFA for “discriminatory” chanting and for the lighting and throwing of fireworks.

Abraham, in his second England squad after scoring eight Premier League goals at the start of the season, believes offering abusers more than one chance is also the incorrect approach.

“For me personally, I think it’s just one strike because it gives people excuses,” added the Chelsea striker.

“One time, twice, three times – it gives silly people excuses.”