The 20-year-old started the Three Lions’ comprehensive 4-0 victory over Bulgaria on Saturday, and the Reds skipper was really impressed by the youngster.
“Declan’s a fantastic lad, a great lad to have in the England squad,” he said, as per the Evening Standard. “He’s always smiling, wanting to learn and wanting to improve.
“The other day he played really well, breaking things up. He’s a great addition to the squad. He’s got the right mentality as well. He’ll go a long way and I’m excited to see what he can do in the future.”
Rice certainly fills a hole in this England squad. Gareth Southgate’s side hadn’t quite sorted out the defensive midfield position prior to the Hammers midfielder bursting onto the scene last season. Henderson himself was often shoe-horned into that area of the pitch, despite it becoming clear that he is better suited to a box-to-box midfield role. Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier was another who was utilised in the position. However, his form has dipped over the past year or two, whereas Rice has shown himself to be a superior player to the Spurs star. We saw what Rice brings to the England set up against the Bulgarians on Saturday, where he produced a solid performance in the middle of the park. He’s in there to win the ball back and give it to the more naturally-talented attacking players in Southgate’s squad. He did that superbly on Saturday and will likely continue to do so for the Three Lions for many years moving forward.