Declan Rice insists he will continue to give his all to England in a bid to cement his place in their Euro 2020 squad and amid strong competition from some talented midfield rivals.
The West Ham star has started eight of the last 10 internationals and seems a pivotal member of Gareth Southgate’s side. Rice, who started against Albania on Sunday, is likely to keep his place for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier at home to Poland.
The match is England’s last before Southgate names his Three Lions squad for the rescheduled tournament.
While Rice looks a strong bet to make England’s 23-man squad, there is competition for his role in the side. That comes from the currently-sidelined Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and ever-improving Leeds star Kalvin Phillips.
Both Rice and Phillips started together in Albania and the pair both did their long prospects plenty of good.
This graph illustrates possession in the opposition's half…
What minute did Kalvin Phillips go off again?
Time the haters put some respect on his name 💪 pic.twitter.com/Foa2AIUXyJ
— TEAMtalk (@TEAMtalk) March 29, 2021
Asked if he was confident of being in the Euros team, Rice replied: “No, I don’t think you can ever think like that.
“We have got such a strong squad and such strong competition in the middle. Healthy competition, competition that you want leading into a European Championship.”
Rice’s form this season has seen David Moyes’ side emerge as shock contenders for a top-four finish. While that might be a step too far, he is an ever-present for the Hammers and is now rated in the £100m bracket by his club.
And having been an ever-present this season, Rice has no qualms over playing twice in four days for his country.
“Two games in four days? We are used to that at club level,” Rice said.
“We’ve maintained our fitness this season so it’s not been a problem at all. If picked, I will be ready to go out there and give my best job for the team.”
Rice laughs off Kane meme
Rice was faced with becoming an internet meme after the weekend win in Albania.
As England celebrated a goal in the 2-0 victory, Rice put up his hand for a high five only to be roundly ignored by teammates.
— England Football Fans (@EnglidsAway) March 28, 2021
“It was funny because as we were on the plane and just about to leave Albania, Harry Kane, I didn’t think he’d seen what had happened and he’s seen the video and called me and said, ‘Dec, sorry mate’,” he said.
“I turned round to him and had a bit of a laugh. Like I said to the boss, I’ve been turned into a meme again.
“We had the one with Mason (Mount) scaring me and obviously now I’ve been left hanging. I need to improve on that front!”
Rice when then asked about the darker side of social media, which has seen players targeted for abuse at a growing rate.
Thierry Henry left all of his platforms earlier this week after saying enough had not been done to tackle racist abuse.
And Rice was quick to agree with the Arsenal legend that a stand needs to be taken.
“I think something definitely has to be done,” added Rice. “There has been way too much social media abuse, in the last year especially.
“For someone like me, who runs my own account and has that interaction and love with the fans, I don’t have any problems with social media.
“I think it’s important that a player like me can have that interaction with West Ham fans and England fans.
“But yes, Thierry Henry has obviously boycotted it and I saw (Gareth) Bale came out and say something. It’s maybe a decision that will be spoken about in the future by the players.”
Rice plays down vice-captain claims
With Henderson’s participation as yet unknown, Rice has been touted as a potential vice-captain for England at the Euros.
He has skippered West Ham this season and revealed his father has always been the one pushing him to be a leader.
“It’s just something my dad has always been on to me about as a kid,” he said.
“Still to this day I will still get a text from my dad before the game, a long paragraph, ‘start well…talk….always be loud’ and little pointers.
“That’s still to this day. That has always been ingrained in me since I was in the academy as a kid, at Chelsea, at West Ham. Just ‘be loud and always help out the team’.
“When I came to England, we have so many leaders, so many who are captains of their clubs. That’s very important. That’s especially true going into a tournament. We have got so much experience, so many captains. We need to step up and try to help each other out.”