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Jordan Henderson says facing Champions League’s best will improve England stars

Jordan Henderson believes a tough Champions League campaign could help England’s players in their bid to beat the best.

European football’s No1 club competition returns with the start of group-phase play next Tuesday.

Liverpool kick off against Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain and are also set to face Napoli in Group C, while Spurs have Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and Inter Milan in Group B.

Manchester United must tackle a Juventus side bolstered by their summer signing of megastar Cristiano Ronaldo. While champions Man City have a less frightening group they will still meet a Lyon side featuring Liverpool target Nabil Fekir and former Old Trafford cast-off Memphis Depay.

Henderson said: “You are playing against fantastic teams and good players so you are going to learn a lot from games like this.

“You want to be playing the best teams all the time. We have got some good games coming up over the next few months, so they are big tests for us and ones we want to take on to get to the next level.”

England were outclassed for large periods on Saturday night as Spain recovered from a goal down to win 2-1 in their inaugural Nations League tie.

Gareth Southgate’s side struggled to cope with chief architect Thiago Alcantara, along with Sergio Busquets and Saul Niguez, who quickly cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s opening goal.

But Henderson believes the high quality of this season’s Champions League groups for the English contingent could assist with their learning curve.

He also maintains Three Lions fans should not get too downhearted with the weekend’s reality check, as the team are still a work in progress despite making the World Cup semis this summer.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Switzerland in Leicester , he added: “We know what we are trying to do.

“Spain are a fantastic team so they are going to have periods in the game where they put you under pressure.

“But for the majority of the game, especially in the second half which was better, we created some good chances that we could score from.

“There are still positives to take out of it but a lot of things to learn as wel,l because Spain are a fantastic team. We still feel confident. We still feel like we are learning. We have a lot of young players in the team.

“You want to play against the best teams and the best players to learn from experiences. Spain are definitely that. We will look back on the game, at what we can do better and what we did well, then move on to Switzerland, which is another good test.”

Rashford blew two big chances to add to his opener against the Spanish but Henderson believes he has the quality to prove himself an able alternative to Harry Kane.

The Reds midfielder went on: “We all know how talented Marcus is. It was a great finish. He had another one or two chances that maybe he would have liked to have scored but I thought he looked sharp.

“He was lively and he’s always a threat on the counter-attack. He’s a fantastic young player so he just needs to keep learning and improving. He’s a big part of our team.”

Who will go furthest in this season’s Champions League?


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