Rice wins first England call-up

Aubrey Yates
March 16, 2019

Rice, who can play as a centre back or in midfield, has been one of West Ham's most consistent players this season, earning rave reviews and comparisons with former club great Bobby Moore.

"I think it's easy to be vocal when you haven't walked in those shoes", the England boss said.

Declan Rice has earned his first England call-up, with Gareth Southgate impressed by the West Ham midfielder's mentality.

The London-born midfielder played three times for Republic of Ireland but qualified for England as they were all friendly games.

Like Rice, Everton defender Keane had a choice between England and Ireland with his father having left the Republic as a nine-year-old to start a new life across the Irish Sea.

When he was crowned Young Player of the Year at the London Football Awards, she wrote on social media: "Couldn't be more proud of my Dec winning young player of the year".

"You've got to be really clear that you feel they have a future with you".

"That said, there were never any guarantees made to him".

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"We don't have many English goalkeepers playing, all of those that are playing have had moments and spells of good form, making good saves and days when they have not been so good", Southgate is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Everton keeper Jordan Pickford, who has suffered a dip in form this season and played poorly in his side's defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday, retains Southgate's confidence.

Southgate picked him as one of three keepers alongside Stoke City's Jack Butland and Tom Heaton, who returns to the squad following a lengthy absence.

"His character and leadership qualities mean he fits in very well into the way that we work".

The Three Lions kick off Group A against the Czech Republic at Wembley next Friday before heading to Podgorica to take on Montenegro.

"We are looking forward to working with him next week".

And he responded to Rice's critics, pointing to the fact that some of them "did not play for the country of their birth", a likely reference to Kilbane. "His performances with us have been excellent". What I like about our squad is that a lot of players have the mentality that they want to be amongst the best players in the world.

"But, we're pleased with what Jordan's done and we've got to help him through what was hopefully a blip at the weekend".

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