MURPHY: Rice could be England's most important player at the Euros

DANNY MURPHY: Declan Rice could be England’s most important player at Euro 2020 – if he struggles, Gareth Southgate’s side will struggle

  • Declan Rice will have a pivotal part to play for England at Euro 2020 this summer 
  • The West Ham midfielder gives Gareth Southgate’s team quality at both ends
  • With concerns over Harry Magurie and Jordan Henderson, Rice will be crucial 
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.

Declan Rice could be England’s most important player at the Euros. A quality holding midfielder is key to success at every level. All of the best teams have one. 

Just look at N’Golo Kante’s influence on the Chelsea side that’s just won the Champions League. In every game he plays. Fabinho for Liverpool when they won the Premier League, even Fernandinho for all those years at Manchester City.

With Harry Maguire missing and Jordan Henderson not fully fit, Rice is going to be crucial. A massive responsibility rests on his shoulders.

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice may be England’s most important player at Euro 2020

Rice will not just have to protect England’s centre-backs but he is also likely to be the one who starts the team’s attacks. If he struggles, England will struggle.

I know he hasn’t played tournament football before but his maturity and performances this season for West Ham make me confident he will rise to the challenge.

These are a huge three group games for Rice, who will have to play in all of them.

Rice gives you quality at both ends. He offers wonderful defensive cover. He’s always filling in holes and spotting danger. But he’s added the passing part to his game. 

He can now play through the lines more and that is crucial when you are playing out from the back. It was something that Henderson was criticised for in his younger days but then added it later in his career. Rice has added it this season. He is very capable now of starting England’s attacks. 

Rice has shown that he is capable of making a major contribution at both ends for England

If Declan gets injured, I think we would find it very difficult to replace him.

And England will need to stop another midfielder in Luka Modric if they are to get off to a winning start against Croatia on Sunday.

Modric brings control. He dictates and determines play. He has eyes in the back of his head. He ‘sees the pictures’ as I call it.

You have to get after him. When I played against him for Fulham, I would always pass him over to Mousa Dembele who dealt with him really well. You need physical athletes in midfield to counter him. Chelsea got joy against Real Madrid with Mason Mount doing that. He’ll need to do it again on Sunday.

We might never have a better chance to win the Euros but I think a semi-final would be a good achievement. There has been talk of England trying to plot their way through the competition to avoid the big boys in the quarter-finals.

That’s not the way to go about it. Just try to win every game. Other than France, they have no one to fear. Everyone else should be more fearful of England than England should be of them.

It is crucial for England to stop Luka Modric if they are to prevail against Croatia on Sunday

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