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Joe Cole has raved about thriving West Ham star Declan Rice and told the All to Play For Podcast that he’s a definite starter in midfield for England.

The former Hammers academy product also thinks no other England player has the qualities that Rice can bring to the international table.

Gareth Southgate is playing a two-man midfield for England and Rice has played alongside Jordan Henderson, and his childhood friend, Mason Mount in those roles.

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Cole shared his thoughts on Rice’s qualities as a footballer and who will partner him in the middle of the park for his country.

“I think Dec’s in there [England’s midfield],” said Cole. “What he brings I don’t think anyone else has the quality. I think Eric Dier can play there but he doesn’t really play that holding role anymore.

“I think as far as holding roles go, Declan has the full package. He can break the play up, he’s competent on the ball, he’s intelligent, he’s driven, he’s a real team player that can knit it together.

“I think it’s Declan and one other next to him in a two. Obviously, Henderson brings experience. He is a top player. But you also have Mason [Mount]. I think Southgate will play certain players for certain games – it was great to see Declan’s goal [against Iceland].”

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It was a slow, and at times, difficult start to life with the Three Lions for Rice, but in recent times, he is starting to make the number eight/six role his own.

Southgate is a clear fan of the defensive-minded midfielder, who is also adding more drive, and as he proved against Iceland, goals to his game.

The only problem he faces is that the system Southgate plays doesn’t suit most of the players around him, it’s too defensive-minded, he doesn’t have a regular partner and there isn’t any consistency at the back – all in all, it puts more unnecessary pressure on his game.

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