In the haste to profess adoration for Jack Grealish and the slow burn of satisfaction at the embarrassment of riches available to England in attacking positions, it is sometimes easy to ignore the conundrum Gareth Southgate is facing as he tries to assemble a starting XI that can win the Euros next summer.
It is easy to see that England is overflowing with youthful talent in attack but Southgate is searching for a system that will best camouflage weaknesses in defence where, too often, the national team looks vulnerable and one-paced.
Nobody particularly likes the 3-4-3 formation that pragmatism has presented because it is essentially an exercise in damage limitation.
Jack Grealish received huge praise for his performances for England in the international break
Phil Foden also turned on the style against Iceland in midweek, and scored a late double
So we rave about the continuing emergence of Phil Foden and his brilliantly audacious turn against Iceland on Wednesday night and we compare Grealish to Paul Gascoigne and we congratulate ourselves on how lucky we are to have world-class forwards such as Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford and we revel in the fact we have a player as clever and astute as Mason Mount.
But amid all that understandable enthusiasm about the headline acts and the desire to fit as much of that talent into the team as possible, it is becoming more and more apparent that the role of Declan Rice in this exciting, young England side is the key to its chances of going two steps further than Gascoigne’s team of Euro 96, which fell to Germany in the semi-finals.
Rice, who scored his first England goal against the Icelanders, may not enjoy quite as much acclaim as some of his more celebrated England team-mates but he should do. He is such a mature talent that it is easy to forget he is still only 21.
He is already a highly-accomplished defensive midfielder but the amount of potential he still has to unlock is frightening.
He can play in central defence or ahead of the back four. He has the kind of positional sense and tactical smarts you can’t teach.
He is brilliant at breaking up play and forcing turnovers, economic in his passing, good in the air, a fine tackler, calm and authoritative. He is not flashy but he still catches the eye. It may not be long until he is recognised as England’s best player.
His role is critical, too, as Southgate tries to find the balance between maximising England’s attacking threat and protecting its central defence.
Rice has been used in central midfield as part of the 3-4-3 but, as that system stutters, it is easy to see how he could be best deployed alongside Jordan Henderson or Mount as part of a screen in front of a back four in a 4-2-3-1.
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