‘A top talent’ – Chelsea-linked Rice jumps to defence of Mason Mount amid Grealish debate

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West Ham United star Declan Rice has revealed his opinion that the criticism aimed at fellow English international Mason Mount of late has been ‘very harsh’.

England back in action

The Three Lions are of course currently in the midst of their latest round of fixtures.

Gareth Southgate’s men got things underway with a comfortable 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland on Thursday night.

The real business, though, begins tomorrow night.

England are set to face off with world no.1 Belgium in 24 hours’ time, with the country’s Nations League fate hanging in the balance.

Sunday’s visitors to Leuven currently sit 3rd in the Group B table, meaning defeat at the hands of Roberto Martinez’s Belgium could prove the final nail in the Three Lions’ Nations League hopes.

England’s final group outing will then take place on Wednesday, when they welcome bottom of the table Iceland to Wembley.

GUIMARAES, PORTUGAL – JUNE 06: Head Coach of England Gareth Southgate looks on during the UEFA Nations League Semi-Final match between the Netherlands and England at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques on June 06, 2019 in Guimaraes, Portugal. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Mount vs Grealish

As such, amid a testing stretch for his side, the pressure is very much on Gareth Southgate.

Results aside, though, adding further weight to the shoulders of the England boss at present are his decisions when it comes to team selection.

There will of course always be criticism surrounding Southgate’s choice of Three Lions starters, with most fans, whether intentionally or not, biased towards the stars who line out for their club of choice.

One selection dilemma to have caught the headlines like few others in recent memory, though, has of course been the debate surrounding Mason Mount and Jack Grealish.

Mount, a regular for both Chelsea and England, is often singled out for criticism by fans, with many seemingly of the opinion that the 21-year-old gets by on reputation, rather than actual production.

In turn, many amongst the Three Lions fanbase have called for him to be dropped by Gareth Southgate, in favour of the in-form Jack Grealish.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 26: Mason Mount of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on July 26, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Both players actually started in the country’s win over Ireland during the week, with Grealish, who was deployed in a considerably more advanced position than Mount at Wembley, having been quick to defend the Chelsea midfielder when drawn on the situation during his post-match interview:

‘Very harsh’

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And, as outlined above, another of Frank Lampard favourite Mount’s international teammates has today also moved to shoot down any criticism of the youngster’s talents.

The player in question? Declan Rice.

Speaking during a press conference ahead of England’s showdown with Belgium, Rice, heavily linked with a move to Chelsea of late, revealed his opinion that the digs aimed in Mount’s direction are altogether ‘harsh’, before suggesting that his close friend would take his place in any team in the Premier League:

‘I think it’s very harsh.’

‘I witness it here when I come to train here. I trained with him since I was a kid I know what his mentality is like. I know how hard he works and how driven it is and it’s no surprise that Gareth picks him, that Frank [Lampard] picks him.’

‘I think if you give every Premier League manager the chance to pick him they would pick him because if you see him day in and day out and what he gives to the team and as an individual, he’s a top talent. I definitely think the criticism is very harsh.’

Highlights: Chelsea duo Callum Hudson-Odoi & Hakim Ziyech star on international duty

Reece James returns to Chelsea ahead of England’s upcoming Nations League ties

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Leicester City FC 8 9 18
2 Tottenham Hotspur FC 8 10 17
3 Liverpool FC 8 2 17
4 Southampton FC 8 4 16
5 Chelsea FC 8 10 15
6 Aston Villa FC 7 9 15
7 Everton FC 8 2 13
8 Crystal Palace FC 8 0 13
9 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 8 -1 13
10 Manchester City FC 7 1 12
11 Arsenal FC 8 -1 12
12 West Ham United FC 8 4 11
13 Newcastle United FC 8 -3 11
14 Manchester United FC 7 -2 10
15 Leeds United 8 -3 10
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 8 -3 6
17 Fulham FC 8 -8 4
18 West Bromwich Albion 8 -11 3
19 Burnley FC 7 -9 2
20 Sheffield United FC 8 -10 1
Player Team Goals
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 8
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 8
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 8
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 8
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 7
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 7
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 6
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 6
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 5
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 5
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 5
Grealish, Jack Aston Villa FC 4
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 4
Werner, Timo Chelsea FC 4
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion FC 4
Jimenez, Raul Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 4
Rodriguez, James Everton FC 3
Jorginho Chelsea FC 3
Adams, Che Southampton FC 3
Ward-Prowse, James Southampton FC 3

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