West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice is set to make his England debut during tonight’s Euros 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic, and all eyes will be on the former Republic of Ireland youth international.
The 20-year-old switched allegiances a few weeks ago having already represented Ireland thrice at senior level, but manager Gareth Southgate will be glad he chose to represent the Three Lions given his impressive performances for the Hammers this term.
Rice has been the best English player in his position this term, and with England struggling for depth in quality in the holding midfield position, his addition comes as a huge and welcome boost.
Former West Ham defender Nigel Winterburn believes the youngster can establish himself as a key member of the Three Lions for years to come, as long as he keeps getting better.
“If he continues the progression that he’s shown this season, then there is no reason why he won’t be a regular pick for England in that holding role,” the former Hammers star told Love Sport Radio.
“It’s all about breaking up play, intercepting play, it’s not as much as about tackling, but also being a good distributor of the ball. He’s shown that he can move forward with the ball as well.
“If he keeps level-headed and keeps producing the performances he has produced this season, and then show that he can do it on international level, some players can’t quite get the next step, but I’m sure Declan Rice will step into that role and then in the future becomes one of the first names in the team sheet.”
Rice is a key player for manager Manuel Pellegrini, but it remains to be seen if he can impress Southgate and replicate his domestic form on the international scene.
He has Tottenham’s Eric Dier and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson to compete with for a starting berth in the team, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep the duo out of Southgate’s XI.