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Rice backed to nullify Mbappe

Flynn Downes is backing Declan Rice to play a key role in this weekend’s World Cup quarter-final between England and France, and has backed him to keep PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe quiet.

The Three Lions go into this weekend’s last-eight clash well aware that they will need to overcome one of the best sides in the world to reach the semi-finals.

France are the current world champions, and it may well be the biggest test the Three Lions have faced at a major tournament in decades.

Declan has been central to his country’s performances at this tournament, playing in every game, against Iran, the USA, Wales, and Senegal.

While he did miss training with illness earlier this week, his Hammers team-mate Downes has backed Declan to keep Mbappe quiet and help Southgate’s side qualify for the last-four.

Quoted by Football.London, the ex-Swansea City midfielder said: “Of course he can (nullify Mbappe). He (Mbappe) is a world class player but I think Declan is one of the best midfielders in the world. It will be good to see him tested against the best. 

“I think he is definitely told to be more defensive minded for England. I don’t know if he likes that to be honest – I haven’t spoken to him since he has been out there.

“It will be good to see him against France, against top players. He is playing a more defensive role – it will be good to see him against Mbappe. But there is Greizmman and Rabiot too. They are a good team – it is not a bad 11.”

Declan will be desperate to extend his stay in Qatar this weekend, and Downes has admitted that he is dreaming of eventually playing for England at the highest level.

He added: “Dec has been the same old. Performing well, he is a role model. I am on holiday and he is performing. I will get there one day hopefully.”

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About Dave Langton

A journalist with 10 years' experience of working on National newspapers, now chief reporter covering the club that I've loved since I was a boy. Upton Park remains the greatest football stadium ever built.