Former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole feels that Declan Rice could have defended better for Belgium’s opener against England last night.
The West Ham midfielder was attracted to the ball and Cole believes the 21-year-old failed to track Youri Tielemans whose deflected shot went in off the post to give the home side the lead in the first half:
“I think he got attracted more towards Lukaku. I think that line (taken by Tielemans) should have been his recovery run. Look where this ball ends up, that would have been Declan running onto that. Now the ball has gone behind him and he’s chasing it. He doesn’t see where the danger is. If he had taken that straight run, he would have had [Eric] Dier with Lukaku and then you have that little bit of balance on the opposite side of the box for any balls that are played off Lukaku.”
Rice has been criticised by certain sections of England’s fanbase for his performances at international level so far, much to the frustration of Hammers supporters who see him play week in and week out.
It must be pointed out that Eric Dier was more at fault than Rice for Tielemans’ strike. The Tottenham defender gave the ball away in a dangerous area, forcing the likes of Rice to press in order to retrieve possession.
Manager Gareth Southgate seemed happy enough with Rice’s display, keeping the midfielder on for the full 90 minutes during the 2-0 defeat.