West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has had a difficult international break as pundits have slammed him left, right and centre.
Roy Keane ripped the Hammers midfield enforcer apart on ITV apart ahead of England’s win over Kosovo as he suggested there were a lot of areas of his game could be improved on, Martin Keown blasted Rice for being too cautious while writing in the Daily Mail, while Ray Parlour claimed the 20-year-old was going through a bad spell while on talkSPORT, and the list goes on.
And it seems Alan Shearer is the latest pundit to be unimpressed with Rice.
The England legend named the starting eleven he’d play if he was England boss at Euro 2020 in his column for The Sun, and Rice was nowhere in sight.
Shearer explained his line-up and said that Gareth Southgate will be looking for other players to force their ways into his plans when it comes to the sitting midfield position, which is where Rice plays.
“If Gareth had to pick the squad now he’d have an easy task but he will be looking at central defence and the sitting midfield position and asking other players to force their way in,” wrote Shearer in his column for The Sun.
Rice will surely take Shearer’s remarks to heart as it implies he needs to up his game in order to be a real option for England.
The 20-year-old has nailed down his place in the Hammers’ first-team, he’s played every minute of the Premier League campaign so far (Source: Transfermarkt), and has done okay this season.
Rice has averaged 2.9 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game across his 12 league outings, as per WhoScored, to be a solid defensive presence for the Hammers in midfield and has helped dictate the tempo of games for Manuel Pellegrini’s side through his passes as he has averaged 49.9 passes per match.
In fact, only Felipe Anderson has made more passes than Rice this season for the Hammers, so surely all this implies he should be considered a top-contender to feature for England. (Source: Premier League)
The 20-year-old may not have a lot of international experience, he only has six caps to his name, but to suggest Southgate will be hoping other midfield enforcers emerge for him to choose from, it does Rice a disservice.
While the Hammers midfielder is doing okay, hopefully, he ups his game anyway in order to get an opportunity to prove Shearer wrong in the summer.