Gary Neville has named Declan Rice alongside England captain Harry Kane as undroppable for the remainder of Euro 2020.
Gareth Southgate selected Rice as his lone defensive midfielder during England’s 1-0 win over Croatia on Sunday afternoon and Neville feels the 22-year-old will start every match of the tournament.
Rice quietly went about his business for the Three Lions, as he so often does for West Ham, but Neville was clearly impressed with the Hammers vice-captain.
“I feel Harry Kane is undroppable in this England team, but I’d put Declan Rice pretty much up there at the moment, he’s going to play every game,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“I think Kalvin Phillips now, with the way he played against Croatia, is going to play alongside him. I don’t see Southgate changing that.
“They’ve got a good partnership, good rotation in midfield, they pass well together, and they’re certainly more ahead in their fitness than Jordan Henderson at this time.”
Rice and Phillips dovetailed well at the heart of the England midfield, with the Hammer offering the protection the back four needed which allowed the Leeds star to push forward and support the attack.
Phillips’ driving run and pass into Raheem Sterling provided the game’s only goal and the 25-year-old credited Rice with providing him the defensive support he needed to have the confidence to get forward.
“I love playing with Declan [Rice],” Phillips said. “I love playing in that role where I have licence to go forward and I know that Declan is behind me backing me up if I ever get beat. It is an honour playing with Declan and the rest of the team.”
Rice was delighted with the win but reiterated on social media that it is just the beginning of England’s journey in the tournament.
“Just getting started!” he wrote on Twitter. Great win and performance to start the euros! The support today was incredible. Thank you.”
Next up for England is a clash with rivals Scotland on Friday, June 18 at Wembley. Rice declared the occasion a career highlight and cannot wait to take on the Scots.
“The game on Friday will probably go down in our careers as one of the most memorable games you will ever play,” he said. “We know the history with Scotland. We know the type of game it will be. We want to focus on the Scotland game and repeat the same performance.
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“They’ve got some top players who play in the Premier League. Che Adams, John McGinn and Scott [McTominay] in the middle are two warriors and Andy Robertson and [Kieran] Tierney at the back are great leaders and players.
“We are not going into it and say it is going to be easy because that will be wrong. They are going to come and be physical and we need to match that and do more. We need to be ready and we will be ready.”