West Ham star Declan Rice has launched a passionate defence of his England team-mate Mason Mount and urged both fans of the Three Lions and Chelsea to value the contributions he is making at both club and international level.
Mount has established himself as a firm favourite of both Frank Lampard and Gareth Southgate, but his lack of goal contributions has rendered him an easy target and prompted suggestions that he has become something of a teacher’s pet.
Rice, however, who shares a close friendship with Mount, insists nothing could be further from the truth and argued that the attacking midfielder would find a way into the overwhelming majority of Premier League teams.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Nations League fixture against Belgium, Rice said: ‘We don’t speak about it but like you said there I think it’s very harsh. I witness it here when I come to train here. I trained with him since I was a kid I know what his mentality is like.
‘I know how hard he works and how driven it is and it’s no surprise that Gareth picks him, that Frank picks him.
‘I think if you give every Premier League manager the chance to pick him they would pick him because if you see him day in and day out and what he gives to the team and as an individual he’s a top talent. I definitely think the criticism is very harsh.’
Mount starred during Thursday’s win over Ireland at Wembley alongside Aston Villa talisman Jack Grealish, a performance which put to bed any suggestion the pair were incompatible, according to Rice.
‘Mason at Chelsea is playing as an attacking no.8 and Jack is play off the left. I think as you saw the other night they can play in the same team and they are both great players we should be valuing.’