West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is in the mix to become an England captain in the future, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has confirmed.
Rice is still only 23 but has already played 28 times for England since making his senior debut in 2019. He has also regularly captained West Ham in the Premier League this season and would be expected to take over that role full-time when veteran skipper Mark Noble leaves in summer.
At international level, Southgate has revealed that he sees Rice as being ‘right amongst’ a leadership group that includes the likes of Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire and a number of other players who wear the armband for their respective Premier League sides.
“It is noticeable that we were looking at two possible teams for these games and we now have more and more club captains actually involved in the fray,” Southgate explained after Saturday's 2-1 win over Switzerland.
"[Rice] is right amongst that despite his age. What I have seen this season is the confidence that he has gained from his experience last summer,” the boss added.
Southgate described Rice’s performance against Switzerland on Saturday as ‘really mature’, adding that he, “…breaks the game up so well, but now has more confidence to drive with the ball and bring it forward as well. Without a doubt he has all the attributes to be a captain.”
Southgate insists that Rice starting out so young with England – he played 106 minutes against Netherlands in the semi-finals of the 2019 Nations League on just his second international start while barely out of his teens – has had a major benefit in accelerating his development.
“We are gaining the rewards of the opportunities we had to blood him so young," he continued. "The initial Nations League campaign and playing against the Dutch in the semi-final. They were the biggest games of his life at that time. He is now getting European experience with his club as well and all of those things are starting to come together.”
Rice will be on the first names in the final squad list for the 2022 World Cup later this year, his second major international tournament after Euro 2020 last summer.