West Ham star Declan Rice says England are ‘buzzing’ ahead of Friday’s UEFA Euro 2020 derby with Scotland
Having won their opening match at a UEFA European Championship finals for the first time in ten attempts and beaten a Croatia side which reached the 2018 FIFA World Cup final, overcoming England in the semi-finals, expectations will now rise across the country that it really, truly is coming home!
While previous England squads may have attempted to temper expectation, West Ham United star Declan Rice says the current group want to ride the wave of optimism under Gareth Southgate as far as they can, but at the same time will remain fully focused on the job at hand.
And the next job will be to make it back-to-back victories when they face Scotland at Wembley Stadium on Friday evening.
This game, they’re going to come with everything and we need to give 120% more, so we’re going to be ready and we’re going to go for it
“We’re buzzing,” the Hammers midfielder, who stifled Croatia’s talented midfield in Sunday’s 1-0 win at the Home of Football, confirmed. “[England assistant manager] Steve Holland said in the dressing room after the game that we can enjoy our night and then on Monday morning the focus is back on because the game on Friday will probably go down at the end of our careers as one of the top three memorable games we’ll ever play in.
“We know the history with Scotland and we know what type of game it will be, so once we travelled back, we had a laugh with the lads and enjoyed it but from Monday morning the focus was on the Scotland game and going out there and repeating the same performance.”
While Scotland present a lesser challenge to Croatia on paper, being ranked 30 places lower than the Croats and 40 below England in the FIFA World Rankings at number 44, the 22-year-old knows form often goes out of the window in local derbies, while former West Ham assistant manager Steve Clarke and his squad will be desperate to get one over the Auld Enemy.
Rice also recognises the quality Scotland do have in their ranks, with no fewer than ten players plying their trade in the English Premier League and seven more turning out for Glasgow giants Rangers and Celtic.
“They have got some top players, we all know that,” he confirmed. “They have a lot of players who play in the Premier League and obviously Che Adams is a top player with Southampton, then they have John McGinn and Scott McTominay in the middle and they are two warriors and Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney at the back who are two leaders and two great players, so we’re not going to go into this game thinking it will be easy because that would be wrong.
“This game, they’re going to come with everything and we need to give 120% more, so we’re going to be ready and we’re going to go for it.”
*England's second UEFA Euro 2020 Group D fixture with Scotland will be broadcast live in the UK on ITV1 and the ITV Hub.