Declan Rice should be used in defense for England as the West Ham captain can “play that position blindfolded”, according to Tony Cascarino.
Embattled Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire has come under constant scrutiny over the past year and after the Three Lions were beaten again by Italy to be relegated from their Nations League group on Friday night (September 23), the wishes talkSPORT expert Changes for the World Cup.
Rice himself wasn’t in the form that manager David Moyes put a £150million price tag on his head and started the Milan defeat in his usual midfield, but he’s a capable defender and was a prime target for Frank at that position Lampard as the Everton boss was in charge at Chelsea.
Speaking on talkSPORT on Saturday morning (September 24), Cascarino said: “I’ve been talking about this for ages and I’m going to drive people crazy with it – the best way to play for England is a Four [at the back].
“And I really think that at the heart of the English defence, Declan Rice is the best person to play in a foursome because he’s quick too. Absolute middle-half.
“Playing with someone like John Stones, having that pace will be really important for England in a back four.
“Declan could play this position blindfolded. He’s a natural defender.
“I always picture Harry Maguire on the left side of a three – it’s a place where Kylian Mbappe plays – if Kylian Mbappe gets anywhere close to a one-on-one, Harry Maguire is in total trouble.”
Clearly Gareth Southgate is struggling with his side at the moment and while Maguire has largely been better than at Old Trafford in a period of continued success for the national team, there will not be many who trust him on the other side like the French star.
To be fair to him, Rice wouldn’t stand much of a chance against Mbappe either in the same situation, but the idea of the West Ham star being suited to the English defense could have some mileage in a group of three or four.
Fikayo Tomori will no doubt wonder what the problem is with everyone in this country as Lampard missed him at Stamford Bridge, just as Southgate largely does now as he continues to impress with AC Milan in Serie A.
However, central midfield is also lightweight and if Rice is transferred from there it will leave a huge gap with Kalvin Phillips injured and Jordan Henderson short on football.
Jude Bellingham is a rising star, but he can’t handle all the work on his own, so wherever Rice is used, something is missing.
There is a temptation to go overboard in reacting to Nations League games which not too long ago would have been just friendlies and if Southgate has a plan for the World Cup then fine but recent record is bad.
But with so many players out of shape for their clubs, most worryingly for Irons fans Rice and Jarrod Bowen, the national team will suffer too, as Cascarino himself warned last week.
Rice has become a real star in midfield and his ability to play in defense is part of what makes him such a target for Premier League rivals, but West Ham, like England, are struggling at the moment, and both could use to see more of the 23-year-old at their best.