At present, the battle for England’s holding midfield role seems to between Tottenham’s Harry Winks and West Ham’s Declan Rice.
While Rice has been gaining huge plaudits for his performances over the past year or so, Winks has also shown that he can dictate games against some of the best teams in Europe.
Gareth Southgate started Rice against the Czech Republic, and the 21-year-old just like the rest of the Three Lions stars, had a terrible day at the office as England fell to a 2-1 defeat.
Winks came into the team against Bulgaria on Monday and put in a typically intelligent and hard working display as England hammered the home side 6-0.
On the back of the Spurs’ midfielder’s showing in the match, former striker Darren Bent has raved about the 23-year-old’s passing ability.
He insisted that Winks was better than Rice, and even compared him to former Spurs and Man Utd midfielder Michael Carrick.
Speaking to Football Insider, Bent said: “I’m telling you now, if I’m picking a team – I like Declan Rice, I think he’s a very, very good young footballer – but for me Harry Winks is better, simple as that.
“Rice is better in the challenge, I’ll give you that, can really put a challenge in, but if you’re talking about someone similar to say a Michael Carrick – gets on the ball and his first pass to look for is forward. That is massive because that puts teams on the back foot.
“Against the Czech Republic, a lot of Declan Rice’s passes were sideways and backwards – that doesn’t really help get anywhere. Harry Winks, as soon as he got on the ball, bang, first pass forward. Bang, forward, forward, forward. That makes a massive difference.”
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While both Rice and Winks play in the same position, as Bent points out, their games are different. While Rice seems better at breaking play up and looks just as good on the ball as Winks, the Spurs player seems to have the intelligence and awareness to help the team build from the back. It will be interesting to see the pair battle it out for a starting berth for England at the Euros.
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