England manager Gareth Southgate praised West Ham United youngster Declan Rice after handing the youngster his first England call-up, and explained the absence of Southampton's in-form midfielder James Ward-Prowse.
Rice, 20, has continued his impressive progress with the Hammers this season, holding down a regular spot in their starting line-up, despite the club signing a glut of more experienced midfielders last summer. Rice recently switched allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England, ahead of his much-anticipated call-up for the Three Lions.
Speaking to the press after announcing his squad, via England's official Twitter page, Southgate spoke highly of his new recruit, claiming: "
Southampton's Ward-Prowse and Crystal Palace's Aaron
England recaptured the hearts and minds of the nation last summer, after exceeding their pre-tournament expectations and reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. Southgate's charismatic leadership proved popular with both fans and the media alike, and he'll be eager to foster a similar spirit of unity ahead of the qualification campaign.