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Rice responds to 'harsh' Keane & Souness criticism

Published on: 22 March 2023

Declan Rice has scored twice and contributed four assists in 34 games for West Ham this season

West Ham captain Declan Rice says the recent criticism he has received from pundits including Roy Keane and Graeme Souness is "harsh".

West Ham are in a relegation fight in the Premier League, while there has been speculation over Rice's future.

Keane and Souness have both suggested the England international, 24, is lacking key midfield attributes - namely contributing goals and assists.

"It's one of those where you take it with a pinch of salt," Rice said.

Former Manchester United captain Keane said earlier in March that Rice "hasn't kicked on" and that he "needs to do a lot more".

"He's said some glowing things about me in the past and sometimes some things I can improve as well," Rice said of Keane.

"You try not to let it affect you that much. I can take criticism on the chin quite well. If it is that way I can see where I can improve."

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Meanwhile, former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder Souness wrote in the Daily Mail last month that Rice had just one of three attributes - creativity, goalscoring and defending - required to be "worth your weight in gold" as a midfielder.

Rice said: "It's harsh, I think it's harsh because Souness doesn't watch West Ham every week.

"There's loads of West Ham fans, 60,000 go every week, and see what I do. So I think to say I'm only good at one of three things is harsh.

"Souness was a top midfielder, a top player and when someone like him speaks you have to sometimes listen and take on board where you can improve if that's true."

Rice, who could earn his 40th cap in England's Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy on Thursday, has challenged the Three Lions to win next summer's tournament following last year's World Cup quarter-final exit.

"It's down to us now to go that one step ahead and beat a top nation and win a trophy," Rice said.

"That's all that is on our minds and starting tomorrow night trying to beat Italy and starting our campaign off well."

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