Teamwork makes the dream work

‘A pinch me second’ – Rice on captaining England for fiftieth cap

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Declan Rice admitted he was left “speechless” after being named England captain for Tuesday’s pleasant towards Belgium at Wembley.

The Arsenal midfielder will mark his fiftieth cap by main out Gareth Southgate’s aspect of their closing outing earlier than he names his 23-man squad for Euro 2024 on Could 16.

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“I am speechless to be trustworthy with you,” stated Rice talking on Monday forward of the sport. “I am completely misplaced for phrases. When he [Southgate] stated to me final night time ‘you will be captain,’ I gave him a hug, shook his hand and stated ‘thanks very a lot.’ I owe him quite a bit.

“Since I first got here into the group, he has at all times made me really feel at house. I at all times felt so comfy enjoying below him. I’ve actually grown in confidence so on my fiftieth cap, to stroll out at Wembley in entrance of household, my buddies, it’s an absolute honour. I feel you may see my face I’m speechless.

“I feel I’ve grown a lot as a participant and an individual since I first got here into the group at 19. I used to be in all probability a little bit of a nervous participant after I first got here into the England squad however as time has gone on, I’ve performed extra Premier League video games, extra video games at larger ranges, huge main tournaments.

“I feel I’ve grown into it within the aspect. I’ve loved each single second of it. Fifty caps is a pinch-me second.”

Rice’s elevation is partly as a result of a squad decimated by damage as Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, Sam Johnstone grew to become the newest trio to withdraw on Sunday.

Harry Kane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Kieran Trippier are among the many lengthy listing of absentees which has restricted Southgate’s choices and the shut proximity of the Euros to the Champions League closing — simply 13 days aside — may complicate the image additional on the finish of the season.

“Our plan [this summer] remains to be to provide gamers time psychologically to get well which is the most important facet at the moment of the 12 months,” stated Southgate, who confirmed Ivan Toney is ready to steer England’s assault towards Belgium in Kane’s absence.

“We’re at all times aware how we handle the gamers and once more we now have to adapt our plans to no matter occurs.

“We have had golf equipment within the Champions League finals earlier than. We had a World Cup with solely 4 or 5 days prep final 12 months. It’s more and more difficult at worldwide stage however we have got to make the very best choices with the hand we now have.

“[Now] it’s for us to make the very best choices with the gamers we now have out there. You possibly can’t fear about what we’ve not acquired. You have to transfer ahead. There are loads of totally different causes for these accidents.

“I feel it’s extra advanced than simply individuals wanting again to a winter World Cup however each particular person state of affairs is totally different, frankly. It’s an unimaginable quantity which are unavailable to us — I have not skilled that earlier than — however as I stated earlier, which means there are alternatives for different individuals.

“We noticed towards Brazil individuals actually step up and take these alternatives which is nice for us as properly.”

One other participant at the moment unavailable to Southgate is Ben White, who has advised the Soccer Affiliation he doesn’t want to be chosen.

Southgate stated he was unclear on the exact causes. Sources have advised ESPN that White is reluctant to be a squad participant amid the fallout from a disagreement with assistant coach Steve Holland on the 2022 World Cup — one thing Southgate publicly denies — which contributed to the 26-year-old leaving Qatar sooner than deliberate throughout the 2022 World Cup.

Rice is hopeful his Arsenal teammate will return to the setup in future. He advised BBC Radio 5Live: “Clearly, Ben, if you already know him as an individual and as a participant like I do, he is such man. He is such man and he is an unbelievable footballer.

“Gareth handled it this week, spoke about it. We have clearly not been going into the coaching grounds, so I have not spoken to Ben on a one-to-one stage about it.

“It is onerous to know actually, what is going on on. Clearly, Ben made this choice. He clearly does not need to play for England at this second in time. Gareth has had a dialog with him about it and there is not a lot else I can actually say to him.

“Enjoying for England, the best honour you would ever have. So hopefully, with the standard that he has and the standard he can deliver to this aspect that we will get him again in.”