Graeme Souness believes that Declan Rice’s lack of experience at the top level should prevent him from starting in central midfield for England.
The former Scotland international is a fan of the West Ham vice-captain and is confident he has a ‘big’ future ahead of him but not in the middle of the park.
Speaking before the England vs Scotland game at Euro 2020 Souness told ITV: ” I actually think Declan Rice will be better at the back, I’m not sure if he’s got enough football at the very highest level.
“I think the same of Scott McTominay of Scotland and Man United. Both young men with big careers, but I’m not sure if both of them will be in midfield going forward.”
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Souness questioned playing Rice and Kalvin Philipps in the same midfield believing they are too similar to one another: “I come back to Phillips and I come back to Declan Rice, that, for me, because we were midfielders, it doesn’t work. They’re two peas out of the same pod,” Souness said.
Fellow pundit Patrick Viera was also critical of the Rice-Phillips axis as being too defensive and thinks only one of the pair should play: “I believe they can play with one holding midfielder and then you have Foden who is capable of playing in that position, or you have Mount, who are both capable,” said the former France captain.
Viera added his belief that Rice plays the game too safely for his liking: “When you analyse the game and you’re asking yourself why didn’t they create many chances and I think one of the reasons are the holding midfielders.
“They are both ball-winners, they can win the ball, but it is not their strength to be good with the ball.
“There is a lack of creativity, a lack of seeing the game really quick and trying to find players between the lines, there are too many passes backwards or safe passes. They didn’t take enough risks to put the opposition team in danger.”
Gary Neville whilst not complimentary about the midfield duo was confident both men will keep their positions for England’s final group match against Czech Republic: ” I’m not concerned about Rice and Phillips, they kept a clean sheet. He’s got no choice but to play Rice and Phillips.”
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Neville added: “ We lauded Rice and Phillips on Sunday against Croatia, we said they were brilliant, but when the bigger games come and the teams come at them, it will suit them more, but when they have to create against a team that maybe the expectation isn’t as much, they do find it difficult.”
Rice himself was aware that England need to out on a better performance for the final group match: “We need to improve, we need to keep trying to get better and analyse it and obviously the Czech Republic game on Tuesday is massive,” he told UEFA.
“We need to stay positive and not be too negative and down on ourselves,” the Hammer added. “Now maybe in the press, on social media and with the fans, there might be an overreaction and stuff, but we need to stay focused, get back to the drawing board, analyse and get ready for the Czech Republic game.”