England squad to face Czech Republic and Montenegro

Declan Rice West Ham 2018-19

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His maiden England call-up has been greeted with little surprise following months of resounding performances by Rice in the Premier League, and especially given fellow defensive midfielder Eric Dier's underwhelming season for Tottenham.

On Rice call-up: "We've tracked him for quite a while".

"There aren't many players of Declan's age playing as well as he is in the Premier League".

Elsewhere, defenders Danny Rose, James Tarkowski, Harry Maguire all return after missing the 2-1 win over Croatia in the UEFA Nations League in November, the last match played by the senior squad.

In a statement in February, Rice said he considered himself "mixed nationality" and that making the decision was "not a clear-cut, simple selection".

Southgate said England have been tracking his progress and was delighted to be able to name him in his squad.

"That said, there were never any guarantees made to him".

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Such attributes led the Three Lions boss and former Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth to visit Rice before last summer's World Cup, when they made it clear they saw an worldwide future for him.

On the other hand defender Keane is now part of the squad and the England manager says former Republic youth worldwide Jack Grealish could be part of his plans down the line.

"What we've seen throughout has been an impressive character, a young man that shows tremendous leadership and responsibility".

England will start their Euro 2020 qualification campaign against the Czech Republic at Wembley on Friday 22 March, before they travel to face Montenegro in Podgorica three days later. "He'll fit very well into how we work".

Reid, however, believes Ireland need to continue scouring the country for players who might be eligible to play for them.

The mentality of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is less clear-cut, however, having been called into question after a series of mistakes in the recent Everton defeat to Newcastle, where he was spotted sticking his tongue out - behaviour labelled "bizarre" and "ridiculous" by former England captain Alan Shearer.

"But when I look at Jordan, his performances with us have been excellent". What I like about our squad is that a lot of players have the mentality that they want to be amongst the best players in the world. "He's only recently got back into the team at Southampton", Southgate added.

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