Darren Bent has predicted that West Ham midfielder Declan Rice could face a “battle” with Tottenham counterpart Harry Winks for a starting spot in the England team.
Rice has been Gareth Southgate’s go-to option in the centre of the park since he switched international allegiance to the Three Lions from the Republic of Ireland, but Sky Sports pundit Bent believes that he could face competition in the future from the Spurs ace.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “They tried Eric Dier, he’s not getting enough games at Spurs, they tried Jordan Henderson but he wants to play further forward so at the moment that role seems made for Rice.
“Just to keep it ticking over, one player I almost forgot about is Harry Winks. It’s going to be really interesting to see who gets the nod out of them two because I think technically, Harry Winks is a little bit better in his passing, a little bit crisper, a little bit better.
“I can see them two having a battle for that position for the next few years.”
Whether Southgate chooses Rice or Winks will surely depend on what type of game plan he is trying to enact. Defensively, Winks has averaged 2.5 tackles so far this season, as per Whoscored, but his real prowess lies in his deep-lying playmaking skills. The 23-year-old has played 1.3 key passes and made 1.3 successful dribbles per match this term, with a pass completion rate of 94%. By contrast, Rice is a more defensively minded player, making an average of 3.5 tackles, as well as 2.3 interceptions, as per Whoscored. That solidity comes at the price of some creativity, however, with Rice making just 0.3 key passes per match with an overall success rate of 83.6%. Perhaps then, a direct comparison is unjustified, and it is arguable that there could even be a future in which Southgate deploys Rice and Winks side by side.