West Ham United star Declan Rice says England know they need to up their performance levels in their final UEFA Euro 2020 Group D fixture with the Czech Republic.
The Three Lions followed an impressive performance in a 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening game with a less eye-catching display in Friday’s goalless draw with Scotland.
That result left Rice and his compatriots knowing they need a point from Tuesday’s meeting with Tomáš Souček, Vladimír Coufal and the Czechs to secure second place in the group and a round of 16 against the Group E runners-up – Sweden, Slovakia, Spain or Poland.
A victory would mean the Gareth Southgate’s squad win the group and would face the runners-up in Group F – France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary – in the first knockout stage.
We need to improve, we need to keep trying to get better and analyse it and obviously the Czech Republic game on Tuesday is massive
“I think these are games where we’re at home and we should be winning and we as players know that, but credit to Scotland,” Rice told UEFA.com, following Friday’s victory at Wembley Stadium.
“They played with five at the back and four in front and they ran and defended for their lives. We had our fair amount of chances to put it away, but when Stonsey (John Stones) hit the post [with a first-half header] it maybe felt like one of those nights when everything we tried to create, the ball just wouldn’t go into the back of the net.
“We need to improve, we need to keep trying to get better and analyse it and obviously the Czech Republic game on Tuesday is massive.”
Rice was also asked for his views on England’s failure to create many clear-cut chances in the final third and, in particular, for Tottenham Hotspur centre-forward and captain Harry Kane.
The 22-year-old, who has started each of his country’s opening two fixtures, believes positivity is key to both Kane and England finding their best form against the Czech Republic and for the rest of the tournament.
“We work every day on how we want to play and what we want to do, but Scotland nailed their game plan and they nullified Harry Kane, who is a world-class goalscorer,” he observed. “We want to get the ball to him and we want him to score our goals because he’s a top player.
“I feel like if John’s header had gone in, it would have been a totally different game. We need to keep working.
“We need to stay positive and not be too negative and down on ourselves. Now maybe in the press, on social media and with the fans, there might be an overreaction and stuff, but we need to stay focused, get back to the drawing board, analyse and get ready for the Czech Republic game.”