Questions over Jordan Henderson's England place should only be about the football - Stuart Rayner

It is a story that never seems to go away: England players being booed at Wembley.

Jordan Henderson was jeered off when he was substituted in Friday's friendly against Australia.

Not everyone will have boed for the same reason: some will have been unhappy he "sold out" the LGBT community he previously stood up for by joining the Saudi Arabian Pro League, some that he "sold out" football by swapping the best league in the world for the most lucrative, some dischuffed he was playing for England at all – captaining them, even – because they do not think he is good enough.

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Plenty will have joined in simply because he was an easy target.

UNDER FIRE: England regular Jordan Henderson was booed on FridayUNDER FIRE: England regular Jordan Henderson was booed on Friday
UNDER FIRE: England regular Jordan Henderson was booed on Friday

John Barnes was booed as a figurehead of England's poor form, Harry Maguire last season because of his own, David Beckham for a red card against Argentina, Joe Gomez over a row in training with Raheem Sterling, John Terry after an alleged extra-marital affair, the Euro 2020 team for taking the knee, Ashley Cole because... well, it's Ashley Cole.

As manager Gareth Southgate sarcastically said ahead of Tuesday's European Championship qualifier versus Italy, who knew England fans had such high moral standards?

Often there are undercurrents – the club they play for, that people just do not like them, or in some cases the colour of their skin.

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Football fans are entitled to think what they like and to express it in a football stadium – this is not Saudi Arabia after all – and you could argue this squad is reaping what it has sown after using international football as a platform to have its say on moral issues.

But it is a sideshow for what matters most in the narrow context of an international match: is Henderson worth his place in the squad?

England will find themselves in a tricky position if they overdo the moralising. If Henderson should be excluded for taking Saudi money, what about Newcastle United's players? Sheffield United's? Should not being a nice person, a good husband, boyfriend or father be a bar to playing for England? Or just captaining them?

England's most capped players, top scorers and captains would be very different. The list of World and European champions would too had others mounted that moral high horse.

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Being a good squad member matters, but you do not have to be whiter than white for that. Henderson is one – Southgate tells us often enough. He was also one of England's best players at the last World Cup, soon undroppable from an XI few expected him to be in.

The footballing question is whether playing in a second-rate league makes a Henderson a poorer player over time? So early on, probably not, but come this summer's Euros?

If not, who else? Trent Alexander-Arnold looks a good midfield option but ironically for a defender, a more attacking one. James Ward-Prowse provides cultured passing and brilliant set pieces. Kalvin Phillips is not playing much at all, never mind the standard. If the Saudi Pro League is good enough, is the Championship Leeds United's Archie Gray plays in?

There are legitimate questions about Henderson's squad place, but only if they are footballing ones.