Declan Rice says England can easily cope without his West Ham team-mate
Declan Rice has backed his West Ham pal Michail Antonio to be a hit with Jamaica – but insists England can easily cope without him.
Antonio recently turned his back on the Three Lions to declare for the Reggae Boyz because he feels he has more chance of regular international football with them.
Hamers star Antonio, who has seven goals and five assists this season. was called up by England in 2016 but has never been capped and decided to switch.
But Rice believes England are well-stocked at striker with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Marcus Rashford, Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings all competing with Harry Kane for places.
Rice said: “It’s not one I’ve ever really spoken to him about. Obviously he was called up but never really got the chance to come on and play.
“He’s such a handful. I see it every day in training. He’s so strong. He holds the ball up well. He makes efficient runs in behind. He’s a defenders worst nightmare.
“But look he’s chose his allegiance with Jamaica now. I’m sure he’s going to have a great time there.
“We’ve got other strikers that pledged themselves to England that haven’t got in the squad lately who can easily fill the boots of Antonio, so, we’re well prepared with strikers.”
Antonio was included in England squads under both Sam Allardyce and Gareth Southgate, but never made his senior debut.
Born in Wandsworth, the 31-year-old qualifies for Jamaica through his ancestry and is understood to be going through the process of applying for a Jamaican passport.
Meanwhile, Rice feels tonight’s World Cup qualifier with Poland is a final audition for England’s players before Southgate names his squad for the Euros.
He said: “Yeah, definitely with there not being an international break in April and then obviously the two games in June which are warm-up games.
“Then it is the last chance to go out there and put on a performance. No disrespect to San Marino and Albania but it will be a real step up and closer to opposition who we will be facing in the Euros.
“It is a real chance to go out and make a statement and put on a good performance.”
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