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Gareth Southgate has urged England fans to back Jordan Henderson after the team’s LGBTQ+ supporters revealed plans to protest his inclusion in the team over moving to Saudi Arabia.

The 33-year-old ended a 12-year association with Liverpool to join Al Ettifaq for a reported £700,000-a-week, although that figure was subsequently disputed by Henderson himself.

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That denial came in an interview explaining his decision, which triggered a further backlash after he claimed he had not moved for the money and would continue to be an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQ+ community where possible within Saudi Arabia’s cultural boundaries.

Amnesty International have accused the Saudis of “sportswashing” their poor human rights record by investing heavily in the Saudi Pro League and England’s LGBTQ+ supporters group, Three Lions Pride, are planning to turn their backs on Henderson if he lines up for England against Ukraine in Poland on Saturday.

Speaking ahead of that game in Wroclaw, Southgate said: “I don’t pick the team based on external reaction as you’ll be well aware over the course of seven years [as manager].

“But he’s a very experienced professional. He is very mature at handling any situation really. He’s trained really well this week. The whole group have. I’ve been really pleased with the approach to everything. Everybody is available which is good for us.

“Jordan expressed himself this week, that he’d be sad if that’s how they felt. His feeling towards that community hasn’t changed and I think as a team, I’m sure all of our fans are going to get behind the team when the game starts.

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“So, I understand some of the comments that have been made and I respect the comments that have been made. But what’s also been said is they will get behind the team when they play and I’m sure they will get behind Jordan when the game starts as well.”

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