The 20-year-old has come in for a fair bit of criticism for his performance in England’s 5-3 victory over Kosovo at St Mary’s Stadium on Tuesday night, but Durham feels he is a quality operator.
“My opinion on Declan Rice is that he is one of the best readers of the game in his position in the Premier League,” he said on talkSPORT [11/09; 16:58]. “When you watch him for West Ham… he has a sense of how a move is going to unfold, gets himself into the position he needs to be in to try and break down that move.
“That’s exactly what a team needs from someone in his position. Rice isn’t going to be spectacular like that, but I tell you what, without Rice last night it could have easily ended up 5-5. Vital player in my opinion, and I can understand why he’s an England regular.”
It’s getting a bit boring now to have to defend Rice from criticism from people who don’t watch West Ham regularly. To be honest, it is understandable of them to not know quite what he brings to a team. They see him on Match of the Day occasionally, but generally the first time they’ll properly watch him for months on end is when he’s playing for England. And so when he DOES HIS JOB in the middle of the park: winning back possession, passing the ball to his more talented attacking teammates, they wonder what exactly he does. Come on now; his role in the team is the same one everybody praised N’Golo Kante to high heaven for performing in Leicester City and Chelsea’s title-winning sides. That’s not to say that Rice is as good of a player as Kante – he’s not – but they perform a similar function, yet nobody can seem to fathom what the West Ham man does. Durham, at least, can appreciate what the youngster brings to the table.