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      Yomi
      Keymaster
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      England head coach Gareth Southgate has confirmed the Three Lions’ new captain for their friendly encounter with Belgium at Wembley on Tuesday evening.
      With regular skipper Harry Kane sidelined due to an ankle injury, Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker – already captain of his club – wore the armband for Saturday’s clash with Brazil.

      However, the 33-year-old sustained an apparent hamstring problem in the first half of that 1-0 loss to the Selecao and therefore had to be substituted with just 19 minutes on the clock.

      Walker handed the armband over to ex-Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire, but the 31-year-old and his fellow defender were two of three players to pull out of the squad on Sunday evening.

      Due to the absences of Kane, Walker and Maguire, Southgate revealed in Monday’s pre-game press conference that Arsenal midfielder and former West Ham United skipper Declan Rice would lead the team out against Belgium.

      The most expensive British footballer in history frequently sported the West Ham armband from the 2020-21 season onwards, captaining the Irons to the 2021-22 Europa League semi-finals and 2022-23 Europa Conference League crown.

      Rice has seamlessly slotted into Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal midfield, contributing six goals and six assists from 28 games in an advanced position as the Gunners sit top of the table on goal difference above Liverpool.

      “Declan is here, it’s his 50th cap. He has great leadership and experience already at a tender age,” Southgate told reporters with Rice by his side.

      “It’s a brilliant opportunity for some of our younger players to show leadership. Different feel about the group, different dynamic. A lot of the players with the squad now are the future for the mid and long term.”

      Rice, who played the full 90 in the weekend’s defeat to Brazil, admitted that he was “speechless” to learn that he would be captaining his country for the first time at senior level, having previously only worn the armband in an international fixture for the Republic of Ireland’s Under-17s.

      “Speechless to be honest with you. When he [Gareth Southgate] told me last night, I shook his hand, gave him a hug and said thank you,” the 25-year-old said.

      “On my 50th cap to walk out in front of my friends and family is an honour. I’m absolutely speechless to be honest with you. I love putting on the shirt, whether it’s for England and Arsenal. I want to look and see at the end of my career and hopefully have won trophies.

      “I’ve been playing consistently well throughout the season. My position has changed a lot this season from when I was at West Ham and it is closer to what Southgate wants here at England.”

      Southgate also confirmed that Cole Palmer and Jordan Henderson should both be in contention to face the Red Devils after missing the weekend’s defeat through injury, although the latter is unlikely to last the full 90 minutes.

      Furthermore, the Three Lions boss said that Brentford’s Ivan Toney would be “involved” on Tuesday after Ollie Watkins was given the nod up front against Brazil, but he did not reveal who would start at centre-forward.

      Source: Sportsmole

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