How Declan Rice fared on his first England start

  •  PA Sport

Declan Rice was handed his first England start in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.

Rice played 90 minutes as Gareth Southgate’s men eased to a 3-1 win.

Here, we take a closer look at how Rice fared.

Winning the shirt

Rice only pledged his allegiance to England over the Republic of Ireland earlier this year so his ascent to Southgate’s starting XI has come quickly.

After coming off the bench in Friday’s 5-0 thumping of Czech Republic he replaced the injured Eric Dier to earn a start this time around.

It came less than a week after an old tweet surfaced where he appeared to support the IRA, yet there was no negative reaction from the travelling fans.

There can be no questions over his commitment to the cause, either, as although television coverage swiftly cut away during the national anthems just before the camera reached him, footage did emerge of him singing God Save The Queen.

An accomplished display

Playing in a defensive midfield role it would have been a bad night for England if Rice was in the thick of the action.

Most of the play was ahead of the 20-year-old, but the odd bit of fire-fighting he had to do he did with aplomb. There was one moment of danger that he had to attend to in the first half when he produced a strong block on the edge of the area to thwart a rare Montenegro counter attack.

He won three of the four tackles he went for, made one interception and came out on top in his only aerial challenge.

Looking the part

Aged only 20 and having gone through everything he has already gone through, with the switching of allegiance and the social media past, it might have been easy for Rice to be over-awed by the occasion, in what, at times, was a testing environment.

But he looked every inch an international quality player, best evidenced by his quality on the ball. The West Ham midfielder operated at a 95 per cent success rate, making 62 successful passes.

He was a solid presence in the middle park and on this evidence will go on to be an integral part of this England side, which is undoubtedly going places.

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