Declan Rice in action for England

Rice: Confidence is sky high in the England camp

West Ham United captain Declan Rice is excited to start England’s countdown to the winter 2022 FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar with two international fixtures over the coming days.

Alongside teammate Jarrod Bowen, the Hammers midfielder is part of Gareth Southgate’s squad for UEFA Nations League matches against Italy and Germany.

There will be West Ham players on both sides during these games, with summer signings Emerson Palmieri and Gianluca Scamacca involved for Italy and Thilo Kehrer also part of Germany’s squad.

As it stands, England are yet to win a match in this edition of the Nations League and need to win at least one of their final two games to avoid relegation from League A Group 3, but Rice encouraged the fans to stick with the national team ahead of what could prove to be an exciting few months.

“Playing for your country brings something out of you that you can’t describe,” Rice told TalkSPORT.

“It is down to us to find that form and find that confidence. I feel like Gareth [Southgate] knows how to get the best out of the players he has selected. There is a core group that knows how to work with him. Every time we come here, we feel like we are ready to play; the confidence is sky high.

“I don’t think the fans need to be [down about the team]. After 2018 getting to a semi-final and getting to a final last summer - to lose one game in football is not the end of the world.”

Declan Rice makes a tackle against Germany

England will look to secure their top-tier Nations League status in the next two fixtures but are well aware that the matches will serve as warm-ups to the World Cup in Qatar which starts in November.

England will face the United States and Wales in Group B in Qatar after kicking off their winter World Cup campaign against Iran on 21 November at Khalifa International Stadium.

And Rice is confident England have the players to go one step further than last year’s European Championship final, in which Southgate's men fell to a narrow defeat to Italy on penalties.

“We are all looking forward to the World Cup,” Rice added. “We are all positive. We are ready to go and attack it. These next two games coming up are massive but, obviously, there is a bigger picture ahead of us…the end goal of that is to lift the World Cup.”