Southgate applauds Rice's character after first England call-up

Rice was picked for Southgate’s England squad yesterday and will make his debut against Czech Republic or Montenegro this month

"But I think we've got to look at his age and normally a player of that age making this decision would be able to do it in a much lower-profile case, as was Michael Keane, as was Matt Targett who came from Scotland, as was the case with David Brooks who went across to Wales".

Rice was named Ireland's Young Player of the Year on Tuesday after three senior appearances for the Boys in Green in 2018, and his week will only have improved after receiving a deserved call-up to Southgate's squad.

His maiden England call-up has been greeted with little surprise following months of resounding performances by Rice in the Premier League, and especially given fellow defensive midfielder Eric Dier's underwhelming season for Tottenham.

"When you're asking a player to transfer association you have to feel the player has a future with you".

When he was crowned Young Player of the Year at the London Football Awards, she wrote on social media: "Couldn't be more proud of my Dec winning young player of the year".

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford remains in the squad despite some rocky form at club level with Everton, and Southgate said nothing to suggest his place in the starting XI is under threat.

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"That said, there were never any guarantees made to him".

On the other hand defender Keane is now part of the squad and the England manager says former Republic youth worldwide Jack Grealish could be part of his plans down the line. We like what we've seen in terms of his personality, his character and his leadership qualities.

England face the Czech Republic at Wembley on March 22 before an away trip to Montenegro three days later as they begin qualification for Euro 2020 - of which the semi-finals and final will be held at Wembley.

Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton is back in the squad having recovered from a shoulder injury and Southgate said he would be talking to Pickford together with the England goalkeeper coach Martyn Margetson before deciding on his no. 1. "He will fit in very well with the way that we work". Discussing Ward-Prowse's absence, Southgate added: "We love Prowsey - this recent spell is his best since we capped him". "If we can provide hope and optimism through our performances then that's part of our responsibility as a team".

What happened to players needing to "be playing regularly and in good form" to make the squad, Gareth?

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